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Moscow opposes establishment of US military bases in Central Asia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed Moscow's opposition to the United States setting up military bases in Central Asia once the withdrawal of US and coalition forces from Afghanistan is completed by the end of August.

Washington is looking at additional ‘offshore, over-the-horizon options' to conduct counter-terrorism activities in Afghanistan, if required, and US diplomats have been in contact with several countries in Central Asia to find new places to base US overhead intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets and other capabilities.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow on 12 July Lavrov said, “I don't think anyone is interested in becoming a hostage to such US policy and intentions, and in inviting retaliation. If having a 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.”

“Most probably, they [the United States] simply want to ensure their military presence in Central Asia and be able to influence the situation in this region. I believe all parties understand this and will proceed from the commitments that exist in various associations,” said Lavrov, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow.

The minister first pointed to Pakistan, noting that Prime Minister Imran Khan has already rejected the possibility of his country hosting US bases or allowing its territory to be used for military operations in neighbouring Afghanistan. “The Pakistani leaders replied publicly that they would not even discuss this variant, he said, adding that Uzbekistan had made “a similar statement”.

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