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16 Aug, 2022 13:07

Moscow warns about abandoned US military aircraft

Dozens of aircraft were taken to neighboring countries after the fall of Kabul last year
Moscow warns about abandoned US military aircraft

Military aircraft flown out of Afghanistan by fleeing US-backed troops after the Taliban retook the country last year could now slip into Ukraine, Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan, has warned.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti asked Kabulov on Tuesday to comment on the fate of the Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters that the US originally purchased for the Afghan Armed Forces in the 2010s but ended up delivering to Ukraine in the spring in order to fight Russia.

Kabulov did not rule out similar incidents in the future. “There can’t be any guarantees with the US because it is not capable of negotiating,” he said.

“It’s important for us that helicopters and planes that were flown to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan by the fleeing Afghan commanders and servicemen do not reach Ukraine,” the Russian diplomat said.

He added that around 60 aircraft were moved from Afghanistan to Tajikistan and around 40-50 to Uzbekistan after the Taliban seized power.

Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in late February. RIA Novosti cited a diplomatic source in May as saying that Turkey was recruiting Afghan nationals in Iran in order to send them to fight against Russian forces in Ukraine.

Kabulov said that the Taliban had provided assurances that they would not allow fighters from the country to travel to Ukraine. However, some former Afghan commandos have joined Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and are fighting in Iraq and Syria, he said.

“Another part of these former commandos are joining Ukrainian Nazis as mercenaries. They were apparently offered money because they need to live off of something,” Kabulov said.

The envoy's comments came after Reuters cited an unreleased report by the Republicans on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee that warned that former Afghan security personnel are susceptible to recruitment by Russia, China and Iran.