During the infamous June 16 meeting with Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected any role for American forces in Central Asian countries near Afghanistan, according to senior U.S. and Russian officials.
The exchange between the two leaders complicated Biden’s hopes of basing counterterrorism forces in countries bordering Afghanistan.
The exchange also makes clear that Moscow wants to maintain Central Asia as a sphere of influence rather than expand cooperation with the new U.S. administration.
“The Russians have no interest in having the U.S. back in there,” Paul Goble, a former State Department expert on Eurasia, said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Without access to Central Asian countries, the U.S. would need to rely on bases in Qatar, other Arab Gulf states and the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean to be able to fly aircraft to Afghanistan.
Because flight times from the Gulf states are so long, U.S. drones may spend more than 60 percent of their mission flying to and from Afghanistan, which would limit the time for conducting reconnaissance or carrying out airstrikes.
“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 wrote Thursday in a statement to the Journal. “This position has not changed against the backdrop of what is transpiring in Afghanistan these days.”