The United States is stepping up negotiations to use Russian bases for Afghan counter-terrorism operations

During the secret session, senators were told that this possibility is being seriously considered, lawmakers added. Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, the U.S. Central Command chief, went into detail about specific types of aircraft and firing points that could be used to attack terrorist targets in Afghanistan.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also described to senators the nature of his talks with his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov, the senators added. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Milley raised the issue with Gerasimov, but the further details of the talks have not been previously reported.

“It’s their territory. But I realistically believe that Russia has influence there,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed (DR.I.) said of neighboring countries. [Russia] may not have a veto, but they certainly have influence. So you have to talk to them. ”

Representatives of the Pentagon and the US Central Command did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The revelations come as officials publicly sound the alarm that Afghanistan will once again become a haven for terrorist groups seeking to attack the United States. During a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Milley said al Qaeda could be restored there in six to 36 months.

That the United States finds itself potentially relying on Moscow for its counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan is an astonishing turn after the US withdrawal from the country led to a rapid collapse of the Afghan government in the hands of the Taliban. Hosting the operations at Russian bases also exposes the US apparatus to intelligence gathering from the Russians.

Lawmakers from both sides are unsure of the U.S. military’s ability to rely solely on capabilities beyond the horizon to attack terrorist groups in Afghanistan. They also have concerns about the accuracy of the drone strikes and the likelihood of civilian casualties – as evidenced by the drone strike on August 29 in Kabul, which killed 10 innocent civilians, including seven children.

“We have people on earth in countries where we use the over-horizon. We have easy access from the sea. Afghanistan is a land-locked country and we do not have people on earth,” said Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). a member of the Armed Services Committee as he described the challenges posed by the Pentagon’s plan.

“It is incredible that this withdrawal from Afghanistan has put us in a situation where we are now cooperating with Russians and trying to negotiate with them about our occupation of space,” Ernst added.

During Tuesday’s public hearing before the Senate panel, Austin stressed that “we are not seeking Russia’s permission to do anything.”

The military is currently carrying out counter-terrorism operations – including the counterfeit drone strike in Kabul – from US bases hundreds of kilometers away in the Middle East. And on Wednesday, McKenzie said an unnamed neighbor allows access to U.S. firing points, but “we are not based in any border country.”

Late. Kevin Cramer (RN.D.), another member of the Armed Services panel, said he was encouraged by the level of detail he received in the classified hearing, but said it was a “pretty strange scenario” to rely on. Russia.

“People should be encouraged that our leaders – in the Gulf and I believe in the Pentagon – have ideas, they have plans, they probably have some better options than we may know today, which at least allow us to function. , “said Cramer. . “We know that over the horizon is just – it has never been pragmatic. Whether you are staging from the Gulf in airlines or in Qatar or elsewhere – it would be best if we could negotiate something bordering Afghanistan.”

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