As the United States under President Joe Biden’s orders plans to take in tens of thousands of refugees by housing them across US military bases in Texas, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that his country will not accept Afghan refugees because he does not intend to deal with any “militants” who disguise themselves as asylum seekers.
The Russian leader condemned western countries for their plan to place Afghan refugees in countries even close to his border while their US and European visas are being processed.
The difficulty in processing the visas largely stems from Biden’s disorganized withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, which was overrun by the Taliban well before the United States was able to prepare for the official withdrawal from the 20-year war.
“Does that mean that they can be sent without visas to those countries, to our neighbors, while they themselves don’t want to take them without visas?” Putin expressed his anger to the Russian TASS news agency, according to the New York Post. “Why is there such a humiliating approach to solving the problem?’
The Post reports that the United States has negotiated with a number of different countries to temporarily house Afghans seeking refuge from the war-torn country following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul.
Despite international efforts to aid the United States in evacuating its citizens, special visa holders, and vulnerable people including women and children from Afghanistan, Russian officials have refused to join the effort as tens of thousands of Afghans continue to clamor for rescue at Kabul’s only open airport.
Russia has instead taken a completely different stance than its western counterparts, praising the Taliban for “restoring order” to Afghanistan, which has long been beset by sporadic violence throughout the United States’ 20-year occupation in the country.
“We are seeing the statements the Talibs made about ceasing combat actions, an amnesty for all of those involved in the confrontation, about a need for a nationwide dialogue,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “They are being implemented.”
The Biden administration has set aside a $500,000,000 budget to fund the “unexpected urgent” needs of Afghan refugees stemming from the withdrawal.
The White House said the new funds, released under the 1962 Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, would help meet “unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs” for “persons at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan,” according to The Guardian.
According to the publication, the plan to house Afghan evacuees in Texas received bipartisan support. The paper reports that the evacuees will be housed at the million-acre Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, close to the Mexico border.
An immigration rights expert warned that refugees may need to stay at the military base for as long as a year while they are processed for resettlement.
“We should not be taking refugees from evacuation to, essentially, detention,” comms director for Afghan immigration rights group Welcome With Dignity, Bilal Askaryar, said. “Afghan refugees could be at Fort Bliss or other similar facilities for up to a year as their cases are processed. The recent track record suggests Fort Bliss isn’t a safe location for even a few days.”
A Pentagon official told reporters on Saturday that at least 22,000 people have been relocated to Fort Bliss thus far. Fort Bliss is currently home to a tented camp for unaccompanied illegal immigrant children from Mexico.
For his part, Biden insists that refugees being evacuated from Afghanistan will be vetted in foreign countries before they’re brought to the United States.
“Planes taking off from Kabul are not flying directly to the United States. They’re landing at U.S. military bases and transit centers around the world,” Biden said. “At these sites where they are landing, we are conducting thorough … security screening for everyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. Anyone arriving in the United States will have undergone a background check.”
Despite his assurances, the Biden administration has struggled to document illegal immigrants coming in through the southern border, so it only remains to be seen if it will be able to handle the influx of tens of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan and guarantee that asylum seekers are who they say they are, and not — as Putin suggests — jihadists in disguise.