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SCO Defense Ministers’ Meeting Takes Up Threat of Afghanistan Destabilization

July 28, 2021 (EIRNS)—Afghanistan is very much at the center of the discussion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Defense Ministers meeting which got underway July 27 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement on Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s participation, observing that “Military delegations from India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as Belarus as an SCO observer state, will take part in the session planned for July 28.” Shoigu is also expected to meet bilaterally with his colleagues.

In his remarks, Shoigu stated, at this point, the situation in Afghanistan is particularly important because the country is actively engaged in the SCO’s activities as an observer country, reported the Ministry. “The peaceful development of the Organization's member states and the well-being of our peoples continue to be threatened by international terrorism, extremism, separatism and cybercrime,” he said, and at the same time, pointing out that the situation is aggravated by the pandemic, which has exacerbated international contradictions, traditional challenges and threats.

He emphasized that SCO countries had similar views on how to resolve issues related to regional security and stability. He declared that Russia is taking measures to combat attempts to move militant activity from Afghanistan into Central Asia.

“To that end, we seek to improve the combat readiness of Russia’s military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, by strengthening their ability to respond to crisis situations. We provide assistance to our allies and partners in Central Asia by upgrading their armed forces and equipping them with weapons and military hardware, in addition to training personnel.”

In separate talks with Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Mirzo, Shoigu warned of the recent upsurge in instability in Afghanistan. “Today, joint work on neutralizing threats from the territory of neighboring Afghanistan comes to the fore. The hasty withdrawal of foreign troops from there has triggered a rapid deterioration of the situation and an upsurge and intensification of terrorist activity. This situation calls for appropriate measures, and work on this is already underway,” TASS quoted him as saying. Shoigu pledged that Russian support to the Tajik military, including equipment deliveries and training, will continue.

Speaking to media after the meeting, Shoigu characterized some irony regarding the U.S. withdrawal.

“The United States has announced to everyone and widely: we are leaving Afghanistan. ... But at the same time, negotiations are underway with all the states bordering Afghanistan on the creation of certain logistics centers, bases for the withdrawal of equipment from there and, of course, the creation of centers where refugees from Afghanistan could be accepted, including those people with whom the United States has been cooperating there for many years.

“Here I can say only one thing.... Why do you go out if you stand right there behind the fence and, figuratively speaking, try to observe through the cracks what is happening there? Why leave? In order to stay literally on the border? The answer is absolutely obvious: This is an attempt to gain a foothold in the Central Asian region—naturally, having lost everything that could have been lost in Afghanistan,”

the minister remarked.

Shoigu further observed, it is difficult to find “a good place on the planet, with good consequences, where the United States came and where they stayed for a long time.”

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