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Tags: Afghanistan | Russia | vladimirputin | troops | withdrawal | forces

Report: Putin Objected to Biden's Call to Reposition Forces Near Afghanistan

Report: Putin Objected to Biden's Call to Reposition Forces Near Afghanistan
(Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 19 August 2021 08:24 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin objected to President Joe Biden's June 16 summit suggestion to reposition withdrawn Afghanistan forces in Central Asian countries, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Biden had sought Putin's support for the temporary forces being repositioned near Afghanistan as part of "over-the-horizon" support, senior U.S. and Russian officials told the Journal.

The previously unreported exchange has complicated Biden's planned Afghanistan troop drawdown later this summer, including military drone support and counterterror forces in countries neighboring Afghanistan, and deepened the chaos of the Taliban's takeover of the surrendering Afghanistan military over the weekend, according to the report.

"We do not see how any form of U.S. military presence in Central Asia might enhance the security of the countries involved and/or of their neighbors," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov wrote Thursday in a statement emailed to the Journal. "It would definitely not be in the interests of Russia.

"This position has not changed against the backdrop of what is transpiring in Afghanistan these days."

Putin's objection was made in order to maintain Russia's military control in the region, officials told the Journal.

"The Russians have no interest in having the U.S. back in there," Paul Goble, an expert on Eurasia formerly with the State Department, told the Journal.

Biden and Pentagon and State Department officials have hailed "over-the-horizon" U.S. capabilities, but Russia's objection appears to complicate the availability of those resources.

Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan in Central Asia were intended windows of access for U.S. military assets, but bases in Qatar, other Arab Gulf states, and U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean will carry more of the burden, according to the report.

Without closer locales, U.S. drone missions would spend 60% of their mission time flying to and from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, a senior U.S. military official told the Journal.

Putin, along with China, would object to Biden's plan of nearby positioning, although the summit conversation was not an official request, a senior official said.

Even support from more distant U.S. military installations has been complicated now that the Taliban control Afghanistan, officials told the Journal.

The U.S. previously had bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, but left those years ago amid objections from Russia and China, according to the report.

"Moscow has some leverage, but the leverage is not absolute," Goble told the Journal. "If you ask me, would [Uzbekistan's capital] Tashkent like to cooperate with the United States, the answer is yes. Would Moscow like the United States and Tashkent to be cooperative, the answer I think is no.''

Russia has been active in opposing U.S. involvement in countries neighboring Afghanistan to stall American military influence in the region, a senior U.S. government official told the Journal.

Russia recently held military exercises from its own Tajikistan base and Uzbekistan to counter threats from Afghanistan, according to the report.

"If the logic of the United States is that its military presence might enhance security of Central Asia, the natural response for Moscow is that we can take care of it, we have done it for a long period of time," Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, told the Journal.

Also, the withdrawal from Afghanistan has damaged the trust in the U.S. military support against Taliban aggression, according to William Courtney, former U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia.

"There was a perception that the U.S. was going to stay in Afghanistan and try to fix things," Courtney told the Journal. "But now we have been humbled. They don't believe that we will be reliable protectors against Taliban influence in Central Asia. Their main concerns are Islamic radicals coming north and narcotics coming north."

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Politics
Russian President Vladimir Putin objected to President Joe Biden's June 16 summit suggestion to reposition withdrawn Afghanistan forces in Central Asian countries, The Wall Street Journal reported.
vladimirputin, troops, withdrawal, forces
608
2021-24-19
Thursday, 19 August 2021 08:24 PM
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