Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a June 16 summit meeting with President Biden, objected to any role for American forces in Central Asian countries, senior U.S. and Russian officials said, undercutting the U.S. military’s efforts to act against new terrorist dangers after its Afghanistan withdrawal.
The previously unreported exchange between the U.S. and Russian leaders has complicated the U.S. military’s options for basing drones and other counterterrorism forces in countries bordering landlocked Afghanistan. That challenge has deepened with the collapse over the weekend of the Afghan government and armed forces.
The exchange also indicates that Moscow is more determined to try to maintain Central Asia as a sphere of influence than to expand cooperation with a new American president over the turmoil in Afghanistan, former and current U.S. officials said.
“The Russians have no interest in having the U.S. back in there,” said Paul Goble, a former State Department expert on Eurasia.
The U.S. requirement for what the Pentagon calls an “over-the-horizon” counterterrorism capability in Afghanistan has grown substantially in recent days with the Taliban takeover.