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Russia says US plan for troop pullout from Afghanistan risks ‘escalation’

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Russia said on Wednesday that Washington’s plan to pull out troops from Afghanistan by September could lead to an escalation of the long-running conflict and derail peace talks.

US President Joe Biden announced earlier this week that all American forces would withdraw from Afghanistan by this year’s 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

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The Russian foreign ministry responded on Wednesday saying that an American pullout in September amounted to a “clear violation” of a previous US promise to withdraw troops by next month.

The drawdown, finally ending America’s longest war despite mounting fears of a Taliban victory, delays by around five months an agreement with the Taliban inked by former president Donald Trump to pull troops.

“What is concerning in this context is that the armed conflict in Afghanistan might escalate in the near future, which in turn might undermine efforts to start direct intra-Afghan negotiations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Under former president Donald Trump administration’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban insurgent group, all US troops were to leave by May 2021 in return for the insurgents’ promise not to back al-Qaeda and other foreign extremists -- the original reason for the 2001 invasion.

Biden’s decision came as Turkey said it will host a US-backed peace conference from April 24 to May 4 that would bring together the Afghan government, the Taliban, and international partners.

Moscow said it had been notified of the conference and was awaiting a formal invitation and more information including the event’s agenda.

Read more:

Afghanistan’s Taliban rejects invite to peace summit in Turkey: Spokesman

US, NATO to work together on Afghanistan withdrawal plan: Blinken

Taliban threatens to resume fighting in Afghanistan if troops do not withdraw