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Lavrov: EU thinking of Russia-China role in Afghanistan instead of humanitarian situation

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has slammed the European Union (EU) foreign policy chief's recent remarks about Afghanistan, saying it is regrettable that the bloc is more concerned about Moscow and Beijing supposedly taking control of the situation in the conflict-ridden country rather than the future of the nation itself.

Lavrov made the remarks at a press conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, in Hungary's capital city of Budapest on Tuesday, criticizing the EU's Joseph Borrell, who said last week that the EU must intervene immediately and not allow Russia and China to take control of the situation in Afghanistan and become the main players in the capital, Kabul.

The top Russian diplomat said the fear in Brussels that the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban following the hasty withdrawal of foreign forces from the country was a victory for Russia and China indicated that the EU was obsessed with playing politics and uninterested in the fate of ordinary Afghans.

Lavrov blasted Borrell’s focus on the geopolitics of the situation, expressing regret that EU officials are not as preoccupied with the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

"If the head of EU foreign policy thinks in this way, I feel sorry for the member states that have to hear such a philosophy and, in principle, support it," he said. "Mr. Borrell is not worried about the fact [that] we must help the Afghans stabilize their country as soon as possible."

Lavrov said, "This mentality that Afghanistan cannot be allowed to fall to Russia and China comes from the same place as forcing people to choose whether they are with the West or with Russia and China. It is sad if these are the people developing policy for the EU."

A group of senior EU parliamentarians have also expressed concern about the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and the collapse of the Kabul government, warning that the failure of the Western mission in the country has opened a vast void that the West's purported "adversaries" will rush to fill.

"We deeply deplore the recent political, military, and moral calamity in Afghanistan and express our deep concerns about the situation," the parliamentarians said in a statement. "The hasty withdrawal of US and NATO troops from the country without a condition base and the shocking collapse of Afghan institutions and its security forces allowed the Taliban to take over the country in an unexpectedly rapid way."

The EU parliamentarians said the bloc must urgently develop a new strategy to deal with the region, "considering that Russia and China will quickly try to fill the political vacuum."

The Taliban intensified their militant activities and rapidly overran major cities in recent weeks, as the US-led foreign forces enforced what has been seen as a hasty withdrawal. The militants laid siege to Kabul on August 15, and the then-Afghan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country on the same day.

The sudden takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has prompted criticism of US President Joe Biden, who pressed on with the withdrawal even as Kabul was engaged in negotiations in Doha to form a new government with the Taliban.

Several countries have said that they are in no hurry to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate force, calling for an inclusive government to be established, involving all Afghan ethnic groups.

The Taliban have yet to form a government.

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