MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan will entail an increase in spending on reformatting the security policy in the region and strengthening the potential of security structures, which will affect the level of socio-economic development of countries, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbayev said in an interview with Sputnik.
"As for the situation in Central Asia, then, undoubtedly, all the states of our region are concerned about the latest events in Afghanistan, in connection with which the measures they are taking to ensure security at the borders and within their territories are being enhanced," the minister said.
"One thing is clear: the pullout of the American military will entail an increase in expenditures on reformatting the security policy and its implementation, as well as on strengthening the potential of security structures, which, in turn, will affect the overall level of socio-economic development of all regional countries," he said.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The leaders of the Taliban movement (terrorist group, banned in Russia) will form a 12-man council to govern Afghanistan, US magazine Foreign Policy reported, citing sources.
Some members of the former administration will be offered ministries of their choice, sources said.
The magazine said the council will include Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of the group’s founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, as well as high-ranking member of the Haqqani network terrorist group Khalil Haqqani.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said it is very unlikely the United States will meet the August 31 deadline to completely withdraw from Afghanistan given the number of people on the ground that still must be evacuated.
"I think it's possible but I think it's very unlikely given the number of Americans that still need to be evacuated, the number of SIVs [Special Immigrant Visa applicants], the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders; it's hard for me to imagine all of that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month," Schiff told reporters on Monday.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - President Joe Biden is expected to decide in the next 24 hours whether he will extend the Afghanistan withdrawal deadline beyond August 31, Reuters reported citing a US official.
The report said on Monday that because it will take several days to pull out the nearly 6,000 American troops from Afghanistan, Biden may have to make the decision to extend the US withdrawal deadline within the next 24 hours.
Some of Biden's advisers have recommended he not extend the withdrawal deadline due to security concerns, the report said.
The report added, citing an official, that Biden may unveil his decision during the virtual meeting of G7 leaders on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States has evacuated another 10,900 individuals from Kabul, Afghanistan, since Monday morning, White House Rapid Response Director Mike Gwin said in a statement.
"Between 3:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. ET today, a total of approximately 10,900 people were evacuated from Kabul," Gwin said via Twitter on Monday afternoon.
Gwin also noted that the United States has so far helped evacuate 48,000 people from Kabul since August 14.
LONDON (Sputnik) - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call on the Group of Seven (G7) leaders to step up their support for the Afghan people at the bloc's emergency virtual meeting on Afghanistan he will be chairing on Tuesday, the UK government has announced.
According to the statement, Johnson is expected to ask the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States to match the UK's commitment to relocate 20,000 Afghan refugees and contribute 286 million pounds ($392 million) in humanitarian aid to the region.
"Our first priority is to complete the evacuation of our citizens and those Afghans who have assisted our efforts over the last 20 years – but as we look ahead to the next phase, it's vital we come together as an international community and agree a joint approach for the longer term," the prime minister was quoted as saying ahead of the meeting.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States and the Taliban (banned in Russia) have discussed the terror group's future control of the Kabul international airport, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday.
"A functioning state, a functioning economy, a government that has some semblance of a relationship with the rest of the world needs a functioning commercial airport," Price said during a press briefing. "We are in discussions with the Taliban on this very front. They have indicated to us in no uncertain terms that they seek to have a functioning commercial airport."
BERLIN (Sputnik) - Some of the Afghan asylum seekers evacuated from Kabul by Germany had been previously deported from the European country for committing crimes, Die Welt reported on Monday, citing the interior ministry.
Afghan evacuees undergo security checks only after they arrive in Germany with the use of police records, and a few of these people were found to have had criminal records in Germany upon arrival, a ministry spokesperson was cited as saying.
"It is impossible to carry out a thorough search in international databases or take and match fingerprints due to the situation on the ground [in Kabul]," the spokesperson said, as quoted in the report.
The newspaper said it had information on at least one Afghan criminal who had been deported from Germany and now returned as a refugee.
The Focus magazine reported that the German police barred three male Afghan asylum seekers from entering over the weekend, as they had been earlier deported on rape and drug trafficking charges.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is calling upon countries neighboring Afghanistan to be ready to accept refugees as the security situation in the Central Asian country remains precarious, UNHCR Regional Spokeswoman for Asia and the Pacific, Catherine Stubberfield, told Sputnik.
The UN agency is not itself engaged in evacuation operations conducted by some countries in an effort to fly their citizens and diplomatic personnel out of Afghanistan, along with a limited number of Afghans who cooperated with them before the Taliban (designated terrorist and banned in Russia) took over.
"At this stage, our primary concern is that Afghans who are seeking safety can reach it, including across borders and into neighbouring countries if needed. UNHCR is calling on countries neighbouring Afghanistan to keep their borders open in light of the intensifying crisis in Afghanistan," Stubberfield said.
Even though neighboring countries have welcomed the majority of Afghan asylum seekers for over forty years, including Iran and Pakistan — currently hosting nearly 90% of refugees from Afghanistan — the international community has to be ready to step up support for the Central Asian nation and its neighbors in case of a major influx of Afghan refugees, the spokeswoman said.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - There are significant threats to the US airlift operation out of Afghanistan but the military is taking measures to mitigate them, head of US Transportation Command General Stephen R. Lyons said during a press briefing on Monday.
“The threat is significant as you know. I won’t get into details. We’re closely aligned to CENTCOM and other agencies on threat reporting and potential threat to airlift operations,” Lyons said. “I would just say as we watch that, our crews are the best in the world. That machine, the C-17, is the best in the world, and I’m confident that we’re taking the right measures to mitigate the threat.”
"Currently, the DoD [Department of Defense] is preparing to house refugees for an extended period, which will be determined by how quickly the refugees can obtain their visas," Democratic Representative Veronica Escobar said via Twitter. "The DoD is closely coordinating with CBP [Customs and Border Protection] to facilitate the visa approval process."
Afghan refugees undergo rigorous medical examinations by Department of staff, Escobar said. There are plans for on-site COVID-19 vaccinations as well, she added.
Escobar represents the city of El Paso, which is headquarters to Fort Bliss, one of three military bases housing Afghan refugees. As of Monday morning, 650 Afghan refugees have arrived at the base, Escobar said.
Jake Sullivan said on Monday that the US was consulting with the Taliban on "every aspect" of what was going on in Afghanistan's capital.
Seven people were killed on Monday in clashes at the Kabul airport, an informed source told Sputnik.
"Because of a large crowd of people at the gates of the Kabul airport, people began to crowd the foreign military, which provoked a response, first from the Taliban [the movement is banned in Russia as terrorist group], then from the side of foreign forces," the source said.
According to the source, the victims of the clashes were a security official, two Taliban fighters and four people who tried to leave the country.
The eyewitness also claimed that the Taliban and foreign military personnel had been shooting at each other.
The United States military has evacuated a total of about 37,000 from Afghanistan since the operations began on August 14, Major General William Taylor said on Monday.
“Since the beginning of evacuation operations [from Afghanistan] on August 14, we have evacuated approximately 37,000 [people],” Taylor said at a press briefing.
Germany is in talks with the United States, Turkey and the Taliban (a terrorist group, outlawed in Russia) to keep the Kabul airport operational post-US withdrawal, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.
In 2020, the Trump administration signed a deal with the Taliban that stipulated the United States would withdraw all forces from Afghanistan in exchange for assurances the country would not become a safe haven for terrorist groups. The US troop withdrawal was initially set for May 1, 2021, but the Biden administration delayed the withdrawal deadline until August 31.
"We are holding negotiations with the US, Turkey and other countries in order to make sure that the Kabul airport continues functioning so that those people could be evacuated. We will also have to discuss this with the Taliban and we are already on it," Maas said at a press conference, adding that keeping the airport open after the US withdrawal will be of "special significance."
The minister added that it was still unknown whether the US would extend its evacuation effort beyond August 31.
On August 15, as foreign troops were underway with the withdrawal, the Taliban completed their takeover of Afghanistan by entering Kabul, which led to the collapse of the US-backed civilian government. Following those events, most countries started evacuating their citizens and diplomatic staff, as well as Afghan collaborators, from the Kabul airport, which is still controlled by US and NATO forces.
The US military in Afghanistan has used helicopters on at least two occasions to transport American citizens to the Kabul airport for evacuation, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday.
“Our commanders on the ground [in Afghanistan] are doing what they feel they need to do to help Americans reach the airport. We are using the variety of methods at our disposal,” Kirby said at a press briefing. “There has been at least one additional instance where rotary airlift was used to help Americans get from outside the airport into the [Kabul] airport,” Kirby said at press briefing.
Kirby also noted that airlift help is just one of the means US military exploits to get American citizens to the airport.
On Thursday, the US military used three CH-47 "Chinook" helicopters to bring 169 Americans to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
South Korea is considering saving its Afghan allies from Taliban (a terrorist group, outlawed in Russia) reprisals by bringing them into the Asian country, National Security Adviser Suh Hoon said on Monday.
Earlier in the day, South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong confirmed to the country's lawmakers that the United States had requested using its South Korean military base to house evacuees from Afghanistan. The minister also stated that a number of Afghans have assisted Seoul in various humanitarian projects within the last 20 years.
"We perceive this as a problem and have a national obligation to provide them with a safe haven. We are considering measures, including the option of transporting them here," Suh said during a parliamentary meeting, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.
On August 15, the Taliban completed their takeover of Afghanistan by entering Kabul, which led to the collapse of the US-sponsored civilian government. This development has left many trying to leave the country out of fear of retaliation from the radical movement.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry said that the government has approved transit through the country of 2,500 Afghan nationals evacuated from Kabul to the United States.
"Jordan has approved the transit through its territory of 2,500 Afghans evacuated from Kabul, heading to the United States," a statement read, adding that Amman has made an agreement with Washington on related measures.
The decision is an attempt to help Afghanistan solve an ongoing humanitarian crisis, according to the ministry's spokesman, Daifallah Alfayez, cited by the statement.
The Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) took over the Afghan capital of Kabul on August 15, leading to the collapse of the US-backed government and the resignation of Ashraf Ghani from the post of president. The movement pledged safety to all Afghans and diplomatic missions, as well as expressing readiness for dialogue with the country's political forces.
However, some countries have organized evacuations for their nationals and diplomatic personnel from the Kabul Airport, also taking limited numbers of Afghan refugees who fear reprisals from the Taliban for assisting foreign forces during the war.
The United States is well aware of the desire by the Taliban (banned in Russia) to see the US evacuation mission completed by the end of August and intends to stick to that deadline, Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday.
“We are well aware of the state of desire by the Taliban to have this mission completed by the 31st of August. I will tell you that we too are still planning on completing it by the 31st of August,” Kirby said during a press briefing.
The Taliban said earlier on Monday that it will not give the United States or the United Kingdom any extra time to complete evacuating from Afghanistan, referring to August 31 as the “red line” that would bring about consequences if it is crossed.
Reports claiming that helicopters of the Afghan resistance, located in the northeastern Panjshir province, delivered arms to the area from Tajikistan are false, a Tajik security source told Sputnik on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Telegram channel Herat Times reported that resistance forces delivered arms to Panjshir from Tajikistan. The Taliban (banned in Russia) has said that Panjshir was besieged in an attempt to negotiate conflict resolution peacefully.
"The helicopters of the Afghan resistance forces did not arrive in Tajikistan and did not receive weapons and ammunition here," the security source said.
One Afghan service member was killed and several wounded in an exchange of fire outside Kabul airport which left no US or coalition personnel hurt, spokesperson for CENTCOM, Navy Captain William Urban, said on Monday.
"One member of the Afghan forces was killed by the hostile actor; several Afghans were wounded during the exchange. The wounded are being treated at an airfield hospital and are reported to be in stable condition," Urban said.
He added that no US or coalition forces were hurt in the incident.
"The incident appeared to begin when an unknown hostile actor fired upon Afghan security forces involved in monitoring access to the gate. The Afghans returned fire, and in keeping with their right of self-defense, so too did US and coalition troops... Our condolences go out to the teammates and loved ones of the fallen Afghan soldier," he added.
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev held a phone conversation with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the Russian Security Council said on Monday.
"Nikolai Patrushev and Jacob Sullivan discussed issues of Russian-US cooperation in the field of security. Special attention was paid to bilateral cooperation in the field of cybersecurity. In addition, an exchange of views on the situation in Afghanistan took place," the statement says.
TASHKENT (Sputnik) - EU Special Representative for Central Asia Terhi Hakala has arrived in southern Uzbekistan to learn about the situation at the Afghan border in the wake of hectic developments in the neighboring nation, the EU mission in Tashkent said on 23 August.
The EU envoy's official visit to Uzbekistan is scheduled from August 20-26, the mission said in a statement.
"In relations to the latest events in Afghanistan, Ambassador Hakala went to [southern Uzbek city of] Termez on 21-23 August to get acquainted with the situation at the border. She met there with the Hokim of Sukhandarya region, Tura Bobolov and visited the Center for training Afghan citizens as well as the International logistics center 'Termiz Cargo Center,'" the mission said.
The EU envoy is also scheduled to meet with senior Uzbek officials, including government members and lawmakers, as well as with the representatives of local diplomatic missions and international organisations, the statement read.
"The visit reflects continuous interest of the European Union to further develop the positive relations with the Republic of Uzbekistan and to maintain a fruitful and open dialogue in all spheres of cooperation between the European Union and Uzbekistan," the mission added.
The Taliban (designated terrorist by the UN and Russia) entered the Afghan capital on 15 August, causing the US-backed civilian government to fall. This has forced thousands of people to seek escape from the country for fear of reprisals from the militants. Many countries have since begun evacuating their diplomatic missions and citizens from Afghanistan
With the security situation deteriorating in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has become an intermediate evacuation point for Afghan nationals seeking escape to foreign countries.
Floor Leaders of Political Parties would be briefed by EAM @DrSJaishankar on the present situation in Afghanistan, on 26th August, 11am in Main Committee Room, PHA, New Delhi. Invites are being sent through email. All concerned are requested to attend. https://t.co/iBX9NRd0qq— Pralhad Joshi (@JoshiPralhad) August 23, 2021
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The United States will only allow its citizens, people from other NATO countries, and green card holders to enter the Kabul Airport starting from 23 August, CNN has reported, citing a source.
Many Afghans who worked for the NATO mission in Afghanistan or western agencies and who have applied for the US Special Immigrant Visa programme will not be able to enter the airport, the source added.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - In the European Union there is no consensus on Afghan refugees policy, and it is up to individual EU member-states to decide on this issue, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said on 23 August in response to the statement by European Parliament President David Sassoli.
TOKYO (Sputnik) - Japan will send military aircraft of the Self-Defenсe Forces to Afghanistan to evacuate its citizens and local personnel, the country's Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference in Tokyo.
The Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) has offered a pardon to runaway Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Vice President Amrullah Saleh, allowing them to return to the country if they wish to do so, senior Taliban leader Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani told Pakistan's Geo TV.
"We forgive Ashraf Ghani, Amrullah Saleh, and (Afghan Presidential Security Adviser) Hamdullah Mohib. We forgive everyone, starting from a general who fought against us to a common person", Haqqani said, adding that the enmity between the Taliban and these three politicians only arose on the basis of religion.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Australia has evacuated more than 1,000 people, both Australians and foreign citizens, from the militant-controlled Afghan capital, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on 23 August.
"In the last 24 hours, we have evacuated over 450 people from Kabul ... including Australian and New Zealand citizens, UK evacuees, Afghan locally engaged employees and visa holders. And since the 18th of August, that total is over 1,000 people again, including Australia and New Zealand nationals, those visa holders and foreign nationals", Payne told a briefing, as quoted by her office.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russia has no plans of sending a military contingent to Afghanistan and the Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) is in no need of military support, Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Oleg Syromolotov told Sputnik.
"Such phrasing of the question is not relevant," Syromolotov said when asked about the possibility of Russia sending troops to Afghanistan. "Such a step would not be in our interests. In addition, the new Afghan authorities have started to restore order in the country and do not need anyone's military support," he added.