In a speech at the White House on Tuesday, Biden declared that the United States is “on the road” to withdraw all their troops from Afghanistan by the set deadline of 31 August.
“I am determined to end our mission … The sooner it succeeds, the better.” Biden stressed, adding that every day there is a growing risk that members of the US military in Kabul will be the target of attacks by the so-called Islamic State and other terrorist groups. However, he stressed that the postponement by the end of August would be dependent on Taliban cooperation.
“Completion by 31 August will depend on the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the (Kabul) airport by those we wish to evacuate from the country, and will not disrupt our operation.” said the head of the White House, quoted by CNN.
In this precarious situation, Biden instructed the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense to draw up alternative removal schedules in case this was necessary. In his speech, the US president said that more than 70,000 people had been evacuated from Afghanistan since August 14. However, according to him, the evacuation is complicated by the chaotic situation and violence around Kabul airport.
Biden also said G7 leaders at a virtual summit on Tuesday expressed a determination to work together to evacuate people from Afghanistan.
The first American evacuation troops began to leave Afghanistan
The first American troops to evacuate from the country began to withdraw from Afghanistan on Tuesday. This happened on the day when US President Joe Biden confirmed that he did not intend to extend the deadline of 31 August for the expulsion of members of the US military from Afghanistan.
This was stated for CNN television by two unnamed representatives from the environment of the American Ministry of Defense. They did not say how many troops had already left Afghanistan, but assured that the start of the evacuation did not affect the evacuation of people from Kabul Airport. The Pentagon said Monday that approximately 5,800 U.S. troops are operating at Kabul International Airport to oversee the safety of evacuation flights.
“The reduction (the number of US forces) does not yet affect the mission,” said one of the representatives cited by CNN. According to him, the decision on what military personnel is needed to carry out the mission is in the competence of the operation commander and depends on several factors, such as the number of open departure gates or the number of people arriving at the airport. The whole mission can be carried out with a smaller number of soldiers, and therefore with less security risk.
According to CNN, only a small part of the evacuation troops have left Afghanistan so far. The number of evacuates is expected to increase in the coming days, and at the same time the number of American soldiers leaving the country will increase.
Russia began by evacuating its people from Afghanistan
Russia’s defense ministry began Wednesday with the evacuation of residents of the Russian Federation from Afghanistan. More than 500 citizens of Russia and other member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB), ie Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, are to evacuate, Interfax reported.
“On the order of President Vladimir Putin, on August 25, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu organized an air evacuation from the territory of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” it is written in a statement by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The ministry also announced that Shoigu had been assigned to evacuate a group of four planes, which were concentrated at the airport in Ulyanovsk. A team of military doctors and nurses is also to be carried on board each aircraft to provide medical assistance and support to evacuees, as well as drinking water and food supplies.
On August 15, the Afghan militant Taliban occupied the capital, Kabul, and took power in Afghanistan. Since then, tens of thousands of people have been trying to get abroad from this Central Asian country. Western countries have begun evacuation flights for their diplomats and citizens, as well as Afghans who have worked with them and are urgently trying to evacuate people from the country before August 31, set by US President Joe Biden for the complete expulsion of US forces from Afghanistan.
Russia has not yet participated in the air evacuation process from Afghanistan. As one of the few countries in the world, it has not even evacuated its diplomatic mission from a Taliban-controlled country, and the Russian embassy in Kabul is operating normally. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Russia had not received any Afghan refugees.