A meeting of foreign ministers, defense ministers and secretaries of the Security Councils of the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was held in Dushanbe. The focus was on Afghanistan. Members of the military-political bloc expressed concern about the situation in this country and stated the need for the early formation of an inclusive government. At the same time, for the first time, they consolidatedly opposed the deployment on their territory of the military infrastructure of the United States and other NATO countries, as well as Afghans who collaborated with foreign military forces, located in Afghanistan.
Following the meeting in Dushanbe, the ministers and secretaries of the Security Councils of the CSTO member countries (in addition to Russia, the bloc includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) adopted five joint statements. The key one is devoted to the situation in Afghanistan. The document repeatedly says that the CSTO members are concerned about the sharply aggravated situation in this country. They are concerned about the threat of terrorists “and other destructive elements” entering the territory of their countries under the guise of refugees from Afghanistan, as well as the high level of drug production, which is one of the main sources of income for terrorist groups.
CSTO members called on Afghan ethno-confessional groups to refrain from armed confrontation and take the necessary measures to normalize the situation. They spoke in favor of a sustainable inter-Afghan peace process in the interest of the early formation of an inclusive government with the participation of all social and ethnopolitical forces in the country. And expressed the hope that the statements from Kabul about the intention to respect the rights and freedoms of all Afghan citizens (including women, media representatives and civil society), as well as to hold an amnesty (in relation to former government officials, military personnel and all those who collaborated with foreign military) will be respected.
At the same time, for the first time, on behalf of all six CSTO member states, the document states that it is unacceptable to deploy US and other NATO countries’ military infrastructure in Afghanistan, as well as Afghan citizens who collaborated with foreign military personnel on their territory – “except for cases requiring an urgent solution for humanitarian purposes “.
As a reminder, back in April, the American media reported that, having left Afghanistan, the United States would like to be able to “be near”, for which they need military facilities on the territory of the Central Asian states. In addition, the United States wanted to take Afghans cooperating with them to the countries of the region. The Russian authorities, as Kommersant wrote, warned the Central Asian partners that the United States is not so much interested in maintaining control over the situation in Afghanistan, as it is seeking to use their countries as a springboard for containing Russia, China and Iran. On June 16, at a summit in Geneva, Russian President Vladimir Putin bluntly told his American counterpart Joe Biden that Moscow would not agree with the appearance of new American facilities in the region. At the same time, he offered the United States cooperation in the Afghan direction, including with the use of the potential of Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The Americans were not interested in this proposal.
In mid-July, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that none of the Central Asian states informed Russia of their intention to expose their territories and populations to risks associated with the deployment of new American facilities or thousands of Afghans collaborating with the Americans. “They will probably make the right decision based on their own interests,” the minister said.
As a result, the refugee issue was somehow resolved: the majority were temporarily deployed at American military bases in Europe, and another part, at the request of the United States, agreed to accept the Balkan countries. However, the prospect of some American military installations in Central Asia still worries Moscow. The CSTO’s joint statement on this issue is important for Russia, since it shows that not only Russia, but the entire bloc, which includes the three Central Asian republics, is categorically against such a scenario.
The CSTO does not include Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. But the Uzbek authorities themselves spoke out against the deployment of any foreign bases. And the United States did not even turn to Turkmenistan.
It is noteworthy that the rather voluminous statement on Afghanistan never mentions the Taliban movement that has seized power in this country (it is banned in Russia as a terrorist movement).
Talking to journalists following the meeting, Sergei Lavrov recalled that “the Taliban have not yet been officially recognized by any country.”
“Everyone says that we need to have contacts with them on current issues, primarily security, respect for the rights of citizens, and ensure the normal functioning of diplomatic missions. But no one is in a hurry with official recognition, ”he stressed.“ We are not imposing any conditions on the Taliban. They themselves proclaimed their goals, including their commitment to the further fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. We assured everyone else that they would do everything so that no threats to neighboring countries emanate from the territory of Afghanistan, that they have no intentions to destabilize neighboring states and they will form an inclusive government. ” According to the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Russia will observe whether the Taliban will keep their promises: “It is too little time to draw final conclusions.”
Today, Afghanistan and other topics will be discussed by the leaders of the CSTO countries – the discussions will be held within the framework of the meeting of the Collective Security Council.