Asked about the United States intention to have a military foothold in Central Asia and doesn’t this contradict CSTO security agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister of Sudan Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi in Moscow on July 12 following talks that moving the US troops from Afghanistan to other Central Asian countries will not address security concerns in the region. 

“The Americans have made many things ‘clear’ during their 20 years in Afghanistan, starting from proclaiming a victory for democracy and ending with a hasty withdrawal during which they left enormous amounts of military hardware and other equipment.  The question about plans like this must be addressed to the Central Asian countries rather than the Americans,” said Russian top diplomat.  “Let me recall that in addition to Central Asia they have already addressed Pakistan. The Pakistani leaders replied publicly that they would not even discuss this variant. Uzbekistan made a similar statement.”

“As for other Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are indeed members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO),” Lavrov said, noting that under its Charter, issues pertaining to a foreign military presence on the territory of any CSTO member are subject to approval within this framework.

“Personally, I don’t think the appearance of new US military facilities in Central Asia would promote security in this region,” he added.

“Indicatively, none of these countries have expressed a need to hold consultations on this issue in the CSTO. In addition to commitments in the CSTO, there are strictly practical considerations.  The Pentagon says they would like to have an opportunity to deploy their military resources around Afghanistan to have the ability to carry out a strike against this territory if necessary.  I don’t think anyone is interested in becoming a hostage to such US policy and intentions, and in inviting retaliation,” the Russian foreign minister said.

The minister also questioned the goals of the US presence, asking what Washington hoped to achieve with a small presence outside Afghanistan since it had failed to bring about changes with up to 100,000 soldiers in Afghanistan at the time.  “If, having more than 100,000-strong NATO contingent at their disposal the Americans failed to do anything from inside the country, what results are they going to achieve with a much smaller presence outside Afghanistan? I think the answer is clear,” Lavrov noted

According to him, most probably, the United States simply wants to ensure its military presence in Central Asia and be able to influence the situation in this region.