Russia is ready to supply weapons and military hardware at low prices to its allies in Central Asia surrounding Afghanistan, according to the Russian Prime Minister, who was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency, Monday, August 23.
Russia is calling for joint action with its allies to prepare for potential security threats from Afghanistan after U.S. troops exit and the Taliban take control. The U.S. hit the Islamic State with a drone attack in retaliation after suicide bombers killed scores of Afghans and 13 American service members, according to AP News. The 20-year American war cost more than 2,400 U.S. military lives and ended with the return of power in Afghanistan to the Taliban, which was ousted when the U.S. invaded in 2001.
Critics said that Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan leaves the door open for al-Qaeda, ISIS-K, and other extremist groups to grow and threaten the U.S. now that their presence is leaving. Countries surrounding Afghanistan and its allies are looking to defend themselves against the Taliban’s actions. NDTV states that orders come as countries in the ex-Soviet region have military bases like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and are raising concerns over the terrorist group sweeping into power.
“We are already working on several orders from countries in the region for the supply of Russian helicopters, firearms, and modern border protection systems,” Alexander Mikheev, the head of Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, said to RIA.
Russia and its allies are also remaining cautious about Afghan refugees fleeing the country. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan held joint military exercises with Russia to close their borders, and Kyrgyzstan is scheduled to do the same, NDTV reports.
These military exercises look to focus on “the destruction of illegal armed groups that have invaded the territory of a CSTO member state,” the press service of the CSTO alliance said to the Interfax news agency.
The Taliban said it is not a threat to Central Asian countries, however, the ex-Soviet republic in the region has been targeted in the past by attacks attributed to Afghan Islamist allies. The group has also pledged to rule differently than the 1990s, which saw the strict restrictions on confining women to their homes, banning entertainment, and public executions among other violent crimes. Despite this, many Afghan people crowd the airport in Kabul, and thousands of refugees flee to surrounding countries and states around the world.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization contains six member nations including Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan created in 2002. It is a Russian-led military alliance to ensure the collective defense of any member that faces external aggression according to the EVN Report. It’s been described to be the Eurasian version of NATO.
Over half a million people have already been displaced by the violence in Afghanistan so far this year due to the Taliban takeover, according to the UNHCR. Waves of refugees are surging in different parts of the world like the U.S., Europe, and surrounding countries like Pakistan and Iran. As the final days of the U.S. withdrawal come near, some refugees have taken to different tactics to escape Afghanistan like crossing borders to surrounding countries.
Ways to help refugees around the world include supporting local organizations, helping to resettle families, donating funds or essentials like basic clothing, hygiene products, and household appliances, among other things. Another popular method is helping to volunteer with local organizations to offer refugees a place to stay or picking up and dropping people off from the airport.