Russia says the current situation in Afghanistan has clearly demonstrated the US-led NATO is “an absolute failure as a military-political bloc”, days after the Taliban militant group took over the war-ravaged country following the chaotic withdrawal of American troops.
The Taliban captured capital Kabul and ousted the government of runaway president Ashraf Ghani on August 15, after firming up their grip on almost the entire country through rapid advances that faced no or little resistance from government troops.
The militant group intensified its offensive and rapidly overran major Afghan cities after US-led NATO forces began what has been criticized as a hasty and ill-planned withdrawal.
The Taliban’s capture of the Afghan capital brought a chaotic end to two decades of foreign military intervention in the impoverished country.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said what has happened in Afghanistan recently was a vivid sign that neighed the US nor NATO are capable of coordinating their actions.
“The situation in Afghanistan has graphically demonstrated that neither NATO in general nor the United States, in particular, are capable of effectively coordinating their actions. Moreover, the United States has proved to be absolutely impotent as a steering force,” she said, TASS news agency reported.
Furthermore, “videos of the self-destruction of the ‘invincible machine’, shown across the globe, demonstrate it more convincingly than any military calculations that NATO is an absolute failure as a military-political bloc claiming a leading role in securing world order,” Zakharova added.
She also pointed out that despite its total failure in Afghanistan, NATO is planning to carry out lots of military exercises, particularly in the Baltic and Eastern European countries, and boost its presence in the Arctic, stressing that the military bloc is “too absorbed in virtual confrontation with Russia.”
“The alliance’s decline is obvious. Vehicles from Iraq were at least brought to the Baltic countries and this junk was donated to the vassals. In Afghanistan, they were so drained that they opted to leave their cars and helicopters to those who they were used against," Zakharova further said.
The US-led NATO launched the occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 to allegedly fight terrorism in thousands of miles away from America’s own borders. The offensive temporarily ousted the Taliban, who had ruled the country since 1996, but the group soon rallied and began spreading its presence to the biggest part of the Afghan soil.
Washington announced a full withdrawal in April, without having contributed the slightest to Afghans’ lives, and even considerably immiserated their existence, despite the sheer length of the occupation.
Russia not mandated to report back to NATO about drills: Top Russian official
Separately on Friday, Chairman of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Committee for Foreign Affairs Leonid Slutsky said that Russia is under no obligation to report back to NATO about military drills, TASS news agency reported.
His comments came a few hours after NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Moscow to “behave in a predictable and transparent way” about its Zapad-2021 military exercises, during which Russia will join forces with Belarusian troops.
The main phase of the exercises is scheduled to start on September 10.
Moscow says it is within its rights to exercise on its territory and is clear about the real number of troops involved, refuting NATO’s claims that Moscow habitually underreports the real size of the drills.
“Cooperation is a two-way street. The North Atlantic Alliance unilaterally downgraded its level of relations with Russia. This is their choice,” Slutsky noted.
Russia “is not obligated to report to anyone with this tone, especially considering that there are American missile defense systems are deployed to Poland and American troops are periodically relocated to countries that are located in direct proximity to Russian borders,” the Russian lawmaker stressed.
According to a statement by Belarus's defense ministry last month, the military drills would be held at training grounds in both Russia and Belarus and will be based on a scenario where the two countries are under attack.
Slutsky’s comments came four days after Russia’s defense ministry, according to a report by Interfax, said that some 500 Russian motorized infantry troops from Russia's military base in Tajikistan were conducting military exercises in the mountains near the Afghan border.