Amid the continuing full US troop draw down from Afghanistan, which last week President Biden said would be 'complete' by August 31st, the Pentagon has been debating how to maintain a foothold in Central Asia as it increasingly looks like Kabul will come under Taliban threat within a mere months.
Last month in an interview with Axios' Jonathan Swan, Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan slammed the door shut on allowing the CIA or US special forces to conduct cross-border counterterrorism missions against a resurgent Al-Qaeda, ISIS or the Taliban. Given Washington's scrambling to establish other outposts in countries neighboring Afghanistan, Russia is now warning against such an expanded Central Asian US military presence.
On Tuesday Russia's foreign ministry put the US on notice, warning that the possibility of a US "permanent military presence" in countries neighboring Afghanistan is "unacceptable".
The comments by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov further stated:
"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."
Crucially Moscow also warned Central Asian countries, especially its allies, against hosting US troops connected to events in Afghanistan.
"We cautioned them against such steps, and we also have had a frank talk on the subject with our Central Asian allies, neighbors and friends and also other countries in the region that would be directly affected," Ryabkov said further.
Currently Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have Russian military bases, while Kyrgyzstan closed a US base in 2014 that had been used as a launching pad for counter-terror missions in Afghanistan.
According to Military Times, at the start of this week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had "emphasized that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are all members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and any presence of foreign troops on their territories must be endorsed by the security pact. He added that none of those countries have raised the issue."
Taliban offensives across much of the country as the US exits is already creating a crisis that's spilling over to nearby countries, particularly Tajikistan, which lately saw over 1,000 Afghan national troops and many more civilian refugees flee across its border.
Russia for its part considers Tajikistan its own sphere of influence and says it's poised to activate a base there specifically for Afghan security-related missions, given its concern over foreign jihadists coming out of Afghanistan and entering Russian border regions.