Russia against Turkey's proposal to keep forces in Afghanistan

Turkey's proposal to maintain troops in Afghanistan would be contrary to the 2020 deal for the pull-out of foreign forces between the United States and Taliban, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

Turkey plans to have its troops safeguard Kabul airport in the Afghan capital after the United States and other coalition countries withdraw troops from the country by next September. A continued Turkish military presence in Kabul is seen as essential for maintaining access to the country and keeping embassies in the Afghan capital open.

“Like any other country, Turkey's military presence in Afghanistan is legally contrary to an agreement signed in Doha between the United States and Taliban,” Russian state-run news site Sputnik cited Zakharova as saying.

“This agreement stipulates a complete withdrawal of foreign troops by May 1. It has been postponed to September 2021, and the Taliban movement has expressed its reluctance over foreign forces,” she said.

On Friday, a Taliban spokesman said Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

“Why can't the security of the country's main airport be left to Afghan security forces? Billions of dollars have been spent on equipment and training of the Afghan forces,” Zakharova said.

In his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of Monday’s NATO summit in Brussels, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested that Turkey could retain its troop presence in Afghanistan.

“If Turkey is not wanted to withdraw from Afghanistan and if there will be diplomatic, logistical and financial support from the United States, it would be very important for us,” Erdoğan said.

“We can continue talking with the Taliban,” he added.