Russia’s Security Council Secretary told members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in India on Wednesday that Afghanistan poses major threats and risks to the security of SCO member countries.
According to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency, Nikolay Patrushev said it is “important to watch the situation in Afghanistan closely as it remains tense and is taking on a protracted nature a year and a half after the Taliban came to power.”
He said the threats and risks posed by Afghanistan were due to various issues including terrorism, illegal arms and drug trafficking, illegal migration and the spread of extremist ideology.
“We believe that Washington and its allies who are responsible for the critical situation in the country after the withdrawal of the occupation forces should bear the bulk of the cost of restoring the Afghan economy in the wake of the conflict,” Patrushev said.
He also stated that Russia considers “the return of any US or NATO military infrastructure facilities to the region, including to Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, in any form and on any pretext categorically inadmissible.”
The SCO meeting brought together security officials of member nations and was held in New Delhi. The meeting was attended by Patrushev, senior officials of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and a representative of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of SCO. Officials from China and Pakistan participated virtually.
In his opening remarks, India’s NSA Ajit Doval stated: “Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and its financing are amongst the most serious threats to international peace and security. Any act of terrorism, regardless of its motivation, is unjustifiable.”
Noting that the region has been affected by the impact of global security challenges, Doval said the goals and vision of the SCO Charter could show the member states the path forward.
In the lead up to the meeting, reports indicated the SCO security chiefs were particularly concerned about the situation in Afghanistan because of the growing threat of Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K) – otherwise known as Daesh.
Since the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021 Daesh has increased its attacks across the country and has claimed responsibility for several explosions in the past few months.
Saudi closer to joining SCO
Saudi Arabia has meanwhile moved a step closer to joining the powerful regional bloc led by China and Russia.
On Tuesday, the Saudi cabinet approved a memorandum on becoming a dialogue partner in the SCO, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Eurasian political, economic and security alliance is recognised as the world’s largest regional organization, with eight members, four observer states and several dialogue partners, including Turkey.
Iran, an SCO observer state since June 2005, had its permanent membership approved in September 2021 and signed a memorandum of commitment last year for its full accession.
The eight member states are India, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Wednesday’s SCO meeting meanwhile comes ahead of the SCO defense minister’s meeting scheduled to be held in Delhi next month.