Russia says Turkish military presence in Afghanistan would violate US-Taliban deal

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said that it would be against a 2020 agreement struck between the U.S. and Taliban if Turkish forces were to stay in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of NATO troops from the country.

Afghan soldiers inspect the site of a car bomb attack at a military base in January 2021 in this file photo.

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has commented on Turkey's proposal to guard and run Kabul's airport, saying the presence of Turkish troops in Afghanistan would be against the agreement struck between the United States and Taliban in 2020.

“As it is the case for other countries, the presence of Turkish troops in Afghanistan would legally violate the agreement struck between the United States and Taliban in Doha. This document calls for all foreign troops to pull out [from Afganistan] until May 1. This deadline has been postponed to Sept. 11, 2021 and the Taliban announced its negative opinions with regards to this,” Zakharova was quoted as saying on June 17 by Sputnik's Turkish service.

An agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban on February 29, 2020 envisaged the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2021.

Turkey, with about 500 soldiers still in Afghanistan, has offered to guard and run the Hamid Karzai International Airport, but the Taliban warned that it would be “unacceptable” to them and a “mistake” on the part of any nation to retain a military presence in the country. 

The Taliban insisted that the security of airports, foreign embassies and diplomatic offices is the responsibility of Afghans, saying that “no one should hold out hope of keeping military or security presence” in Afghanistan. 

Zakharova similarly said that the security of the airport should be under the responsibility of Afghan forces.

“Why is not the security of the country's main airport left to the Afghan forces? Billions of dollars have been spent on the training and equipment of Afgan security forces in the last 20 years,” she said.

Earlier this week, NATO leaders in a statement from the Brussels summit affirmed their commitment to continue to stand with Afghanistan and agreed to maintain funding for the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that although Turkey plays a "key role" in these efforts, the alliance has not yet decided on who would run the airport.

After holding a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the NATO summit on June 14, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey would need “diplomatic, logistic and financial assistance” from the United States if it were to maintain troops in Afghanistan to run Kabul’s airport.

“If they don’t want us to leave Afghanistan, if they want a (Turkish) support there, then the diplomatic, logistic and financial support that the United States will give us will of great importance,” Erdoğan said.