The head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, warned on Friday against any “return of military infrastructures” of the United States or NATO in Afghanistan or in the region, saying he was “concerned” by the interventions “of non-regional actors.
Russia views a large part of Central Asia, which was under Tsarist and then Soviet rule, as its natural sphere of influence, and the West as an existential threat.
“We consider that the return of military infrastructure of the United States and NATO to the territory of Afghanistan and neighboring states, whatever the pretexts given, is unacceptable,” declared Mr. Lavrov during a meeting on Afghanistan in Kazan, central Russia.
This meeting with several countries in the region takes place in the presence of the Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi.
“I must note that we are concerned about attempts by non-regional actors to become more involved in Afghanistan,” Sergei Lavrov stressed.
“We are going to be particularly vigilant on this point,” he added, calling on other countries to do the same.
These comments come at a time when Russia is seeking to strengthen its ties with Afghanistan, where the Taliban returned to power in 2021, while seeing its influence contested in its traditional territory.
Tuesday, Uzbekistan welcomed the “strengthening” of its military cooperation with the United States, after a meeting between one of its ministers and Michael Kurilla, head of the American military command in the Middle East, Central Asia and South Africa. South (Centcom).
Bordering Afghanistan, the country had for a time hosted military bases of the coalition led by the United States on Afghan territory after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Kazakhstan has pledged not to help Russia circumvent Western sanctions adopted because of the Russian assault on Ukraine.
Sergei Lavrov estimated on Friday that cooperation between regional countries and NATO members would only be possible if the latter recognized their responsibility for “the sad results” of their military presence in Afghanistan for more than twenty years.
The latter ended in a “fiasco”, he judged, in reference to the catastrophic withdrawal of American troops in 2021.
The USSR itself led a war in Afghanistan, invaded on Christmas Eve in 1979.
After ten years of a disastrous military campaign, the Red Army finally withdrew in 1989, at the twilight of the USSR.
This article is originally published on arabnews.fr