Russia accuses Washington of forcing Central Asia to take in Afghans

(Budapest) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday accused the United States of trying to force Central Asian countries, allies of Russia, to welcome Afghans fleeing the Taliban.

Posted on Aug 24, 2021 at 12:49 pm

During a visit to Hungary, Lavrov criticized Washington’s “persistent and persistent approach to persuading a number of countries in Central Asia and other regions to accept Afghan citizens who have cooperated with the states” United and NATO member states.

“They say it only takes two or three months to welcome them, that they just need time to get them visas,” he added.

“The Afghans who worked with the American armed forces have likely been subjected to scrupulous security checks. Why do you need two more months to issue a visa to these people? he asked, accusing the United States of disrespecting the countries of Central Asia.

About 1,500 Afghans managed to reach neighboring Uzbekistan after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and are now living in tents near the border, according to the Afghan embassy in Tashkent.

President Vladimir Putin also complained on Sunday that “our Western partners insist on taking refugees in Central Asian countries until they have a visa for the USA or other countries”.

The Russian president had called for the influx of Afghan refugees to be prevented.

Several former Soviet republics in Central Asia border Afghanistan and Russia, allowing “fighters disguised as refugees” to reach Russian territory, Putin said.

Above all, Uzbekistan wants to avoid the emergence of armed groups inspired or supported by Afghan Islamists, as was the case in the late 1990s and 2000s.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Uzbekistan temporarily protected the military bases of the US-led coalition active in Afghanistan.

For its part, Russia is cautiously optimistic about the new power in Kabul.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin said it was watching “divided opinions” over the possible extension of the deadline for the full August 31 withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

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