Russia’s president has criticized Western nations for seeking to temporarily house Afghan refugees in Central Asian countries, citing security concerns for Russia. Speaking at a meeting with top officials of the Kremlin’s United Russia party on Sunday, Vladimir Putin blasted what he described as a “humiliating approach” by Western states.
The Russian president noted that there are no visa restrictions between Russia and its Central Asian allies, and said that Moscow doesn’t “want militants appearing (in Russia) again under the guise of refugees.”
“Does that mean that they can be sent without visas to those countries, to our neighbors, while they themselves (the West) don’t want to take them without visas?” TASS news agency quoted Putin as telling leaders of the ruling United Russia party.
“We don’t want to repeat, even in part, something that we had in the 90s and in the mid-2000s when there were hostilities in the North Caucasus,” Putin said.
Thousands of people in Afghanistan have been looking for ways to leave the country after the Taliban took control of Kabul in a swift power grab, seeking to escape what they see as a return to ruthless fundamentalist rule. Hundreds have headed to the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which share a border with Afghanistan.
The United States held secret talks with a number of countries in a desperate attempt to secure deals to temporarily house at-risk Afghans who worked for the US government, Reuters reported last week.
Putin said Russia, which allows visa-free travel for residents of ex-Soviet Central Asian countries, opposes that.
While some Western nations scrambled to evacuate people from Afghanistan, Moscow praised the Taliban for restoring order following its takeover of the country.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Taliban leaders had stuck to their promises so far.
“We are seeing the statements the Talibs made about ceasing combat actions, an amnesty for all of those involved in the confrontation, about a need for a nationwide dialogue … they are being implemented,” he was cited by RIA as saying.
(With AP inputs)