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Russia To Evacuate 500 From Kabul; Hungary Winding Down Afghan Airlifts

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (file photo)

Russia will use four military transport aircraft to evacuate more than 500 citizens from Afghanistan, Russian news agencies reported on August 25, as the Taliban said an August 31 deadline for all foreign evacuations to be completed will not be extended.

Besides Russians, the four aircraft will also airlift citizens of other member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), as well as Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry was quoted as saying.

"On August 25, by order from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu organized the evacuation by military transport aircraft of over 500 citizens of the Russian Federation, CSTO member states (Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan), and Ukraine from the territory of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," the ministry said in a statement.

The aircraft are equipped with medical personnel and supplies to provide the necessary medical assistance in flight, the statement said.

In Budapest, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the Hungarian evacuation efforts from Afghanistan are nearing an end after the Central European country airlifted just over 500 people from Kabul.

"The exact timing will be announced by the commander of the army, which may happen as soon as today," Szijjarto told a news conference on August 25, adding that most evacuees were Afghan nationals who had supported a Hungarian charity or Hungarian troops there.

Earlier, Hungary's Interior Ministry said a plane carrying 240 evacuated Afghan nationals, including 126 children, landed in Budapest on August 25.

Poland, however, said on August 25 that it had halted its airlift evacuations from Kabul's international airport over safety concerns.

Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz said that a group taken from Kabul and now in Uzbekistan was the last to be evacuated by Poland. He said his nation made its decision after consulting with U.S. and British officials.

“After a long analysis of reports on the security situation, we cannot risk the lives of our diplomats and of our soldiers any longer," Przydacz said.

Poland has used more than a dozen planes to bring hundreds of evacuees to Warsaw. Some later traveled on to other countries.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, Interfax, and TASS
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