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BRICS summit: Putin blasts US over Afghanistan 'crisis'

Leaders Urge 'inclusive Intra-Afghan Dialogue' To Ensure Stability, Law And Order

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in the BRICS summit via a video link in Moscow on Sept. 9.   © Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters

Hitting out at the U.S and its allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that their withdrawal from Afghanistan has led to "a new crisis" in the world and it is still unclear how this will affect regional and global security.

"That's why it is for good reason that our countries [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] have paid special attention to this issue," Putin said in his opening remarks at the 13th BRICS summit, held under the chairmanship of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Chinese President Xi Jinping, his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro and South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa also participated in the meeting, which took place in virtual mode for the second time in a row amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Putin said Russia, just like its BRICS partners, has consistently spoken for establishing long-awaited peace and stability on Afghan soil. "Citizens of this country have fought for decades and deserve to exercise their right of defining what their state will look like, on their own."

The Russian president's comments come close on the heels of the Taliban announcing an all-men caretaker government in Afghanistan, which reportedly includes a prime minister who is under U.N. sanctions and an interior minister who is on the FBI's most wanted list.

"We are all interested in Afghanistan ceasing to be a threat to [its] neighbors," Putin said, adding the war-torn country's territory should not be used for drug trafficking or terrorism. "We are for Afghans living in peace and dignity on their soil."

No other leader of the BRICS nations was as vocal on the issue in their opening remarks as was Putin. However, Afghanistan did figure as a key part of the declaration they adopted at the conclusion of the summit.

In his remarks at the opening session of the summit, Xi pointed out that this year marks the 15th anniversary of BRICS cooperation. "Over the past 15 years, our five countries have enhanced strategic communication and political trust in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and equality."

BRICS countries have "become an important force" on the international stage to be reckoned with, he said, adding that since the beginning of this year the five countries, overcoming the impact of COVID, have maintained the momentum of cooperation and secured new progress in many areas.

He said China will take over the chairmanship of BRICS next year and looks forward to working with the partners in the group to deepen all areas of cooperation, and build "a closer and more result-oriented partnership to meet our common challenges and create a better future."

In a commentary on Thursday, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency called for BRICS member countries to strengthen cross-border prevention and pool resources to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. It also advocated cooperation in vaccine production to address the vaccination gap globally.

For his part, Modi called BRICS countries "an influential voice for emerging economies" of the world, observing that "this platform has also been useful for focusing attention on priorities of the developing nations as well."

Putin's remarks on Afghanistan largely appeared to target the U.S. and its allies.

"I have said on numerous occasions that a new spiral of crisis in Afghanistan stems directly from irresponsible attempts to impose alien values from the outside, and intention to build the so-called democratic structures using the patterns and methods of social and political engineering without taking into account ... historic features and disregarding traditions that other people have followed," he said.

"It results in destabilization and chaos, and after that the authors of these experiments have backed down ... and the entire international community will have to clear up the mess as a result," Putin said in strongly worded comments.

In the declaration issued at the conclusion of the summit, the five countries called for refraining from violence and settling the situation by peaceful means.

"We stress the need to contribute to fostering an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue so as to ensure stability, civil peace, law and order in the country," they said, strongly condemning the terrorist attacks near the Hamid Karzai Kabul International Airport in Kabul last month that resulted in "a large number" of deaths and injuries.

"We underscore the priority of fighting terrorism, including preventing attempts by terrorist organizations to use Afghan territory as a terrorist sanctuary and to carry out attacks against other countries, as well as drug trade within Afghanistan," the leaders said in the New Delhi declaration, emphasizing the need to address the humanitarian situation and to uphold human rights, including those of women, children and minorities.

The summit agenda also "included discussions on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to strengthen intra-BRICS partnership in that context," Sanjay Bhattacharya, Secretary in India's Ministry of External Affairs, said at a media briefing after the summit.

In the declaration, the leaders stressed that the international community had a collective responsibility to work together against the COVID-19 pandemic "in the true spirit of partnership within existing international frameworks, including the [World Health Organization]."

"We note that the cooperation on study of origins of the SARS-CoV-2 is an important aspect of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," they said, adding they supported "science-based, inclusive of broad expertise, transparent, and timely processes, free from politicization or interference, to strengthen international capabilities to better understand the emergence of novel pathogens and to help prevent future pandemics."

The theme for the summit was "BRICS@15: Intra-BRICS cooperation for continuity, consolidation and consensus." This was the second time Modi chaired the BRICS summit after the 2016 meeting held in India's western state of Goa.