Russia tells Afghanistan's neighbors to refuse US, NATO forces

Russia tells Afghanistan's neighbors to refuse US, NATO forces
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Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, told Afghanistan's neighbors to refuse to host U.S. or NATO military forces withdrawing from Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

"We ... call on Afghanistan's neighboring countries not to allow a military presence of U.S. and NATO forces which plan to move there after leaving Afghan territory," Lavrov said. 

He was speaking over video at a conference about Afghanistan held in Tehran, Iran, with representatives from China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in attendance. 

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Russia’s government is worried both about terrorists claiming to be refugees to move from Afghanistan into Central Asia and about Western powers expanding their presence in an area once occupied by the Soviet Union and now viewed by Moscow as a defensive buffer to Russia's south, according to Reuters.

Despite the latter concern, however, a Russian newspaper reported this summer that Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinOvernight Defense & National Security — Austin mandates vaccine for Guardsmen Russia's ultimatum: Will Ukraine negotiate peace or risk conflict? The dual threats confronting Ukraine MORE had offered the U.S. the use of his country's military bases in that same area. 

Russia houses one of its largest foreign military bases in Tajikistan, which has a long border with Afghanistan. 

Since the Taliban takeover in August, the Kremlin has further increased its military presence there in both personnel and hardware, Reuters noted.