Russia on Tuesday issued a strong warning against the deployment of the US military into Central Asian countries near Afghanistan and said it had conveyed the message to the Biden administration.
“I would emphasize that the redeployment of the American permanent military presence to the countries neighboring Afghanistan is unacceptable,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday. “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.”
After President Biden first ordered the Afghanistan withdrawal at the end of April, the Pentagon was scrambling for options to maintain the ability to bomb the country. One option considered was repositioning forces in neighboring Central Asian countries, but the US made no progress towards this end and is settling for launching airstrikes from the Gulf region.
Earlier reports said the US would try to reach a basing agreement with countries like Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, or Uzbekistan. Both Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are members of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that any foreign troop presence in a CSTO country would need the approval of the alliance, which Moscow is not willing to give.
Uzbekistan is a former CSTO country but also did not seem interested in hosting US troops after they leave Afghanistan. The Pentagon and the CIA also tried negotiating a basing agreement with Pakistan, but Pakistani officials have repeatedly dismissed the idea.
Last week, after over 1,000 Afghan troops fled from fighting with the Taliban into Tajikistan, Tajik officials requested help from the CSTO over the fighting in Afghanistan. Russia responded and said it was ready to activate a military base in Tajikistan. Since then, the Taliban has tried to assure Russia that violence would not spill outside of Afghanistan’s borders.