Defense Ministry says 4 planes are ready to take over 500 citizens from Russia and 5 ex-Soviet states out of Afghanistan
MOSCOW (AA) – Russia on Wednesday announced it had created a four-plane group to evacuate from Afghanistan more than 500 citizens from Russia as well as the former Soviet states of Belarus, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu gave the order as directed by President Vladimir Putin, said a Defense Ministry statement.
Shoygu commanded that four military transport aircraft be deployed at the airfield in the western Russian city of Ulyanovsk, all stocked with enough drinking water, blankets, and food rations to ensure a comfortable flight for evacuees.
“Medical and nursing teams of military doctors with the necessary medical equipment and medicines will assist the evacuation in order to provide medical help and support to evacuated citizens of Russia and other countries during the flight,” the ministry said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the security of Russians in Afghanistan remains “an absolute priority” for authorities and pledged “to do what is necessary to ensure it.”
Asked about the evacuation of Afghans, Peskov said Moscow is examining the relevant requests from them.
In general, he said, Russia remains concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, with less than a week before evacuations from the country are supposed to end.
“We have seen information that the Taliban themselves allegedly set Aug. 31 as the deadline for evacuation,” said Peskov.
“We know that this topic was discussed at the (Tuesday) extraordinary emergency summit of the G7. The situation is developing. Time is running out. The situation remains extremely tense,” he added.
The Taliban has set Aug. 31 as a “red line” for evacuations to end, and US President Joe Biden has said they are aiming for this date, but may extend the mission if needed.
Once the US leaves Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport – the only area of the country still under US control – that will likely also signal the end of other countries’ evacuations from the country.
The Taliban took control of the Afghan capital Kabul on Aug. 15, with the president and other top officials fleeing the country.
The swift Taliban takeover led thousands of people to try to leave Afghanistan through Kabul’s airport, with the Aug. 31 deadline looming.