Putin REJECTED Biden’s request to have bases in countries surrounding Afghanistan during their June 16 Geneva summit

By MORGAN PHILLIPS, POLITICS REPORTER FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

PUBLISHED: 17:09 EDT, 19 August 2021 | UPDATED: 17:09 EDT, 19 August 2021

Putin said Russia had ‘no interest’ in the US being in Central Asia, report claims.

Vladimir Putin scoffed at President Biden’s plans to establish a military presence in Central Asian countries that neighbor Afghanistan during their June summit, according to a new report. 

Russia’s objections, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, complicate the Biden administration’s plans to establish a counter-terrorism network of drone and surveillance capabilities in countries that border land-locked Afghanistan. 

With the swift fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Biden admitted Wednesday that al-Qaeda could reestablish a dominant presence in Afghanistan even sooner than what intelligence had initially predicted, 18 months. 

Putin told Biden at their Geneva meeting that China would reject a US military presence in the Central Asian region as well, according to US and Russian officials.

‘We do not see how any form of U.S. military presence in Central Asia might enhance the security of the countries involved and/or of their neighbors. It would definitely NOT be in the interests of Russia,’ Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Journal. ‘This position has not changed against the backdrop of what is transpiring in Afghanistan these days.’

Biden was criticized at the time for meeting with Putin at the time of a deeply strained relationship between the US and Russia, after a spate of cyber attacks. Putin was the first adversary to sit down with the US president in international territory. 

President Biden was criticized for his June summit with Vladimir Putin, right, at the time of a deeply strained relationship between the US and Russia, after a spate of cyber attacksPutin was the first adversary to sit down with the US president in international territory

Putin was the first adversary to sit down with the US president in international territory.

Their opposition confirms suspicions that the two nations are looking to flex their muscle over the Middle East. 

The US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan could give fresh opportunity to do just that. Amid the violent coup that left the US scrambling to evacuate Afghanistan this week and last, China and Russia kept their embassy doors open. 

Without access to Afghanistan’s neighbors – Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan – the US would be forced to operate out of bases in Qatar, other Arab Gulf states and Navy aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean to launch aircraft toward Afghanistan 

One former senior military official said that drones could spend up to 60% of their mission flying to and from Afghanistan, limiting time for reconnaissance or carrying out strikes over the country.

The US had bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in the early 2000s, the early days of the Afghanistan intervention, but phased out operations there as the relationship with Russia soured and both Russia and China pressured those countries to stop working with the US military. 

In July, the White House sent Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Homeland Security Advisor, to Uzbekistan to discuss counterterrorism. At the same time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met in Washington with Uzbekistan Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and Tajikistan Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin.

While Russia has considerable sway in the region, former US officials say that favor from the US still matters to countries there. 

‘Moscow has some leverage, but the leverage is not absolute, ‘ said Paul Goble, a former State Department expert on Eurasia. ‘If you ask me, would Tashkent like to cooperate with the United States, the answer is “yes.” Would Moscow like the United States and Tashkent to be cooperative, the answer I think is “no.”‘ 

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