Russia has slammed reported plans by the United States to deploy troops to the Central Asia region following the hasty withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow did not want to see American troops in the Central Asian countries and to the south of Russia’s border as the measure would make the region a target for militant attacks.
“First of all, Russia signed an agreement with these countries, which requires all members of the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] to approve the deployment of foreign troops on the territory of a member state,” Lavrov told a briefing during a visit to Hungary, referring to an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia that consists of several post-Soviet states.
“Secondly, by deploying American soldiers, whose stated goal is to keep Afghanistan in the cross hairs and bomb it if needed, these countries would immediately turn themselves into a target for attacks,” he added.
Lavrov said he doubted whether any of the countries in the region was willing “to help the US satisfy its initiatives.”
“If you think that any country in Central Asia or elsewhere is interested in becoming a target so that the Americans could fulfill their initiatives, I really doubt anyone needs that,” Lavrov stressed.
The Russian foreign minister’s remarks came after The Wall Street Journal reported on the possibility of US troops being deployed to Central Asia, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin had objected to the idea of deploying American troops in the region in his June 16 meeting with US President Joe Biden.
Russia previously warned the United States against deploying troops in the former Soviet Central Asian countries following the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
‘US forcing Afghans on Central Asia’
The top Russian diplomat also said the US was trying to convince “several” Central Asian countries to temporarily take in the Afghans who used to work with American forces in the now Taliban-controlled country.
“They say it’s for a few months because they need time to make them visas,” Lavrov said at the briefing in Budapest. “Afghans who worked with US forces were probably security checked inside out. Why do you need two more months to give these people a visa?”
Lavrov stressed that Washington’s proposal to allow Afghans fleeing the Taliban to neighboring Moscow-allied Central Asia would undermine regional stability.
Around 1,500 Afghans have crossed into neighboring Uzbekistan after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and are living in tents near the border, according to the Afghan Embassy in Tashkent.
The United States and its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext that the Taliban militants were harboring al-Qaeda. The invasion removed the Taliban from power but it worsened the security situation in the country.
The militants intensified their offensive and rapidly overran major Afghan cities in recent weeks, as the US-led foreign forces enforced what was seen as a hasty withdrawal. The Taliban laid siege to Kabul on August 15, and the then-Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country on the same day.
For the past two weeks, Kabul’s airport has been the scene of chaos and sporadic violence, with panicked Afghan and foreign nationals desperately trying to catch evacuation flights out of the country, prompting officials there to enforce restrictions.
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