Russia has expressed serious concern over the US weapons that have fallen into Taliban hands, especially around 150 man-portable missiles that can bring down aircraft and wreak havoc with their devastating fire power.
It is not ruled out that some of these could even be with militant groups other than the Taliban.
Russia’s Federal Service of Military and Technical Co-operation Director Dimitry Shugaev told journalists in Moscow on Wednesday that “there are more than 150 missiles left behind by the US forces in Afghanistan. We do not know who is in control of these missiles. They could be in the hands of the Taliban or any other militant group who can use them in any part of the world including Europe, America or India.”
Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu has also voiced concern about the Taliban seizing a large number of weapons. He expressed a particular worry about the Taliban obtaining more than 100 man-portable air defence missile systems, according to an AP report from Moscow.
Mr. Shugaev explained that because the Taliban is banned in Russia, “we have no military technical cooperation with such a movement. ”
He said Russia supplied Mi-17 helicopters to Afghanistan in the past but they were bought by the US for the Afghan army. However, these helicopters were serviced by European enterprises outside Russia without the consent of Moscow. Russia no longer has anything to do with these aircraft, he added.
Current and former U.S. officials also say there is concern the American weapons could be used to kill civilians or seized by other militant groups such as Islamic State to attack U.S. interests in the region.
Interestingly, another worry for US officials is that these hi-tech weapons including aircraft, military drones and communications equipment with the Taliban may be passed on to China, a country that is notorious for “reverse engineering” or copycat products.
Technology developed after years of painstaking R&D and spending billions of dollars could now be made available to China on a platter to upgrade its military hardware at a time when Beijing has locked horns with the USA in a fierce geopolitical rivalry.