Russia warns US against deploying troops in Central Asia after Afghanistan withdrawal
Russia is warning the U.S. against entering former Soviet Union nations in Central Asia once the Biden administration has completed its full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, issued the warning last month during Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s summit with President Biden , The Associated Press reported, citing an interview with the foreign official published by Russian media on Tuesday.
The remark came as the Biden administration has reportedly considered Afghanistan border countries Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, as well as nearby Kazakhstan, as possible areas to station troops to monitor the situation in Afghanistan following the U.S. military withdrawal.
“I would emphasize that the redeployment of the American permanent military presence to the countries neighboring Afghanistan is unacceptable,” Ryabkov said, according to the AP.
“We told the Americans in a direct and straightforward way that it would change a lot of things not only in our perceptions of what’s going on in that important region, but also in our relations with the United States,” the Russian official added in the interview.
Ryabkov also said that Russia “cautioned” the U.S. “against such steps, and we also have had a frank talk on the subject with our Central Asian allies, neighbors and friends and also other countries in the region that would be directly affected.”
The Hill has reached out to the White House and Defense Department for comment.
The news on the warning comes as the U.S. military has said that withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is about 90 percent complete, with Biden saying last week that all American troops will be out of the country by Aug. 31.
The anticipated date is ahead of Biden’s initial goal to have all troops removed from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that sparked America’s longest war.
However, increased territorial gains by the Taliban amid the U.S. withdrawal have exacerbated concerns that the militant organization could take control over the country without a stable U.S. presence there.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday noted that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are all members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, under which any presence of foreign troops in any of the countries must be endorsed by the pact as a whole.
While Lavrov said that none of the countries have raised the issue of a possible U.S. military presence, the AP reported, he added, “I don’t think that the emergence of new American military facilities in Central Asia would promote security in the region.”
Lavrov’s analysis came the same day Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, officially handed over command of any remaining U.S. operations there to U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie to oversee from his headquarters in Tampa, Fla.