Russia announced it began exfiltrating from Kabul in Afghanistan some 500 people, including Russian nationals as well as other member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), including Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. A number of Ukrainians will also be evacuated.
To set up the air bridge, the Russian Defense Ministry will employ four Ilyushin Il-76 transport planes from Ulyanovsk airfield. Medical teams will also be mobilized to provide assistance if needed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin specified that, unlike western powers, Russia would not evacuate any Afghan citizens threatened by the Taliban, as he feared terrorists could use it as an opportunity to spread out of the country.
“Our Western partners are urging to welcome refugees in Central Asian countries until they have a visa for the United States or for other countries,” Putin said during a meeting of the United Russia party. “But who is among these refugees, and how can we know?”
Both France and the United Kingdom reported having placed under surveillance some of the evacuees suspected of having close ties to the Taliban.
On August 24, 2021, the United States confirmed its decision not to extend the country’s military presence in Kabul beyond August 31, 2021.
“Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians,” explained United States President Joe Biden.
Western forces currently present in the Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL) fear an attack of the Afghan-Pakistani branch of the Islamic State.