Since the beginning of July, the United States has evacuated about 33,000 people from Afghanistan, with about 28,000 of them leaving the republic since August 14. This was announced on Sunday by US President Joe Biden, speaking at the White House in front of reporters.
He said that the United States is evacuating from Afghanistan not only Americans but also citizens of NATO member states, partner states, including their diplomatic personnel. “As of this morning, since August 14, we have evacuated almost 28 thousand people on the US and coalition aircraft, including civil charter flights, resulting in a total of about 33 thousand people evacuated since July,” the head of state said. indicating that the US is evacuating Afghan citizens as well.
According to Biden, thousands of people are evacuated from Kabul every day by the United States on military and civilian planes. “In just over 30 hours this weekend, we evacuated a huge number of people – about 11,000 people,” Biden added. “This number will change from day to day as air and ground operations in Kabul change.” He also said that the Department of State is trying to contact all Americans in Afghanistan to help them evacuate.
“The evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul will be difficult and painful regardless of when it began: <…> a month ago or in a month. It is impossible to evacuate such a number of people without the pain and losses that you see on TV. It’s just a fact.” – says the head of the White House.
He said that the United States “is working with more than two dozen countries on four continents” on the temporary placement of evacuees and agreements have already been reached with the countries of the Persian Gulf, Central Asia, and Europe, in particular with Germany, Spain, Qatar, and Kuwait.
Mobilizing civil aviation to evacuate Afghanistan should not have an impact on commercial air travel, Biden said. “The airlines are participating in this program on a voluntary basis, and we are very grateful to them for this. This work will involve only three to four aircraft from each of the leading carriers, so it will not affect commercial transport or the impact of this measure on them will minimal, “Biden said.
The US administration is discussing the issue of extending the evacuation period from the airport in the capital of Afghanistan after August 31, but hopes that this decision will not have to be made, Biden said.
“We are discussing an extension with the military. We hope that we will not have to extend [the evacuation period]. I suspect it will be discussed depending on how far we have advanced in this process [evacuating people from Afghanistan],” the US president said.
Journalists asked Biden how he would react if the rest of the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), in a virtual negotiation on August 24, asked him to extend the evacuation beyond the stipulated time limit. “I will tell them that we will see what can be done. We are working closely with the G7 [on Afghanistan]. <…> We have already helped to evacuate diplomats from other countries. We have already helped the citizens of other countries to leave and will continue to do so,” – answered the head of state.
The United States expanded the security perimeter at the Kabul airport, and the Taliban (banned in Russia) militants met halfway on this issue, Biden said.
“We have made several changes, including expanding the access zone around the airport, as well as the security perimeter …”
In addition, Biden noted that since the beginning of the evacuation operation, the American authorities have changed many technical aspects that now allow significantly more people to be evacuated from Afghanistan.
The withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan will go down in history as a logical, rational and correct decision, Biden said.
“The idea that I think will remain in history is that it was a logical, rational and correct decision,” he said.
“My job is to make decisions that no one else will or wants to make. I accepted them, and I am convinced that I am absolutely right that I decided not to send new women and men to the war, for which in fact, there is no longer any reason, “Biden also added.
At the same time, in his opinion, countries such as Russia and China would only welcome a situation in which the United States would continue the war in Afghanistan. “You are in Beijing, you are in Moscow, are you for the reason that we left? They would not want anything more than that we remain stuck there, fully occupied with what is happening there,” he argued.
The United States is carefully monitoring and neutralizing threats that may come from terrorists, including from the Islamic State (IS, banned in Russia) group during the evacuation of people from Afghanistan’s capital airport, Biden said.
“The security situation is changing rapidly. Civilians have accumulated at the airport, and although we have taken out thousands of them, we know that terrorists can take advantage of the situation and target innocent Afghans or the American military <…>. We continue to monitor and eliminate the threat from any source, including from IS, “he said.
Sanctions against the Taliban
Biden said that the decision to impose sanctions on the radical Taliban will depend on the behavior of the Taliban themselves.
The American leader made a speech at the White House on Sunday about the evacuation of Americans from Kabul. As he left the hall, he was asked whether he would support the imposition of sanctions against the Taliban under certain conditions. “My answer is yes, it depends on the behavior,” Biden said.
The American president also stressed, answering journalists’ questions, that so far the Taliban have not taken action against US forces, “and also” so far have generally kept “their promises not to prevent Americans from accessing the Kabul airport for evacuation.
The US President was also asked whether he now trusts the Taliban. “I don’t trust anyone, including you, I love you, but, you know, there are not so many people whom I trust,” he replied to the journalist.
Biden said the Taliban are currently “seeking legitimacy in order to determine whether they will be recognized by other countries.” “They told other countries and us, too, that they do not want us to completely curtail our diplomatic presence, but all this is still just talking,” said the owner of the White House. “Let’s see if what they say turns out to be true,” Biden summed up.