Moscow organized the evacuation of more than 500 citizens of Russia, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member states and Ukraine from Afghanistan by military transport aircraft, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“On an instruction by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Defense Minister, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu organized evacuation by military transport aircraft from the territory of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan of more than 500 citizens of the Russian Federation, the CSTO member states (Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan) and Ukraine,” the ministry said.
An air group of four military transport aircraft was formed for the evacuation, and the planes were deployed at the airfield in Ulyanovsk promptly. Each Russian aircraft carries teams of military doctors to provide assistance and support to the evacuees. Also, all planes are provided with supplies of water, food and blankets.
The Taliban movement entered Kabul on August 15 without a fight and within a few hours established full control over the Afghan capital – Kabul. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was leaving the country to prevent bloodshed while Vice-President Amrullah Saleh said that in the absence of the head of state, he becomes the acting head of the country according to the constitution, and called for armed resistance to the Taliban.
According to Reuters, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow is ready to provide its civilian aircraft to fly Afghan citizens from Afghanistan to other nations.
“We are ready to offer the services of Russian civilian aviation to provide flights for any number of Afghan citizens including women and children to any foreign countries that show interest in receiving and accommodating them,” Zakharova said at a news briefing.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg discussed the crisis in Afghanistan caused by the ongoing operation to evacuate thousands of civilians and Afghan allies out of the country by August 31, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday.
“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg today,” Price said in a press release. “Secretary Blinken and Secretary General Stoltenberg shared their views on the August 20 NATO Foreign Ministerial and discussed the situation in Afghanistan.”
Blinken and Stoltenberg emphasized close coordination among allies and partners is crucial to ensure the safe evacuation of Allied personnel and Afghan allies, Price said.
The United States has told the Taliban that the August 31 withdrawal deadline depends on the cooperation of the Taliban, according to media reports. In addition, the Biden administration reportedly asked the Pentagon for contingency plans to stay longer if necessary.
Later, US President Joe Biden made it clear to G7 leaders that each day of operations in Afghanistan boost the risk to the US troops, with the increasing threats from the Islamic State, the White House said on Tuesday
“He [Biden] … made clear that with each day of operations on the ground, we have added risk to our troops with increasing threats from ISIS-K, and that completion of the mission by August 31st depends on continued coordination with the Taliban, including continued access for evacuees to the airport,” a White House statement read.
With Inputs From Tass & Sputnik