Afghanistan’s northern provinces are rapidly turning into a new hotspot as a result of the hasty withdrawal of the US troops, with the Taliban already controlling almost the entire border with Tajikistan, and international terrorist organizations gaining a foothold in the area, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said in an interview with Sputnik.
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“The consequences of the US and some NATO countries’ troop’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan are becoming obvious: once relatively calm northern provinces are rapidly turning into another hotspot.
The Taliban almost completely control the border with Tajikistan. Numerous international terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda branches are gaining a foothold,” Rudenko said.
In addition, foreign militants from combat zones in the Middle East and North Africa are being pulled into Afghanistan, the Russian diplomat added.
“People from Central Asia are being actively recruited into the ranks of such organizations. Drug production has reached record heights,” Rudenko went on to say. The degradation of Afghanistan’s security situation poses a direct threat to Central Asia, the official emphasized.
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“We share corresponding concerns of our neighbors in the region. The importance of maintaining coordinated effort to minimize the negative impact of these risks on our countries’ security was emphasized during the fourth meeting of the heads of Russia’s and Central Asian nations’ foreign ministers in Tashkent on July 16 and in the adopted joint statement,” Rudenko concluded.
Meanwhile, Rudenko said that Russia will take measures to prevent aggression against Tajikistan, if required.
“If necessary, the Russian Federation will take all measures to prevent aggression or territorial provocations in line with the spirit of the Russian-Tajik strategic partnership and alliance,” Rudenko said.
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The two countries maintain intensive contacts, both bilaterally between the defense ministries and via the mechanisms of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the diplomat added. The units of Russia’s 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan, in turn, conduct routine and snap drills.
Russia, Rudenko went on, will continue supporting Tajikistan in boosting its defensive capacity.
Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan is seeing a spike in violence from the Taliban (a terrorist group, banned in Russia) as foreign troops are gradually being withdrawn from the country. The troop withdrawal was one of the points of agreement that the Taliban and the United States reached in Doha in February of last year. Earlier this month, the Taliban took almost the whole Afghan-Tajik border under its control.
Rudenko also said that Russia will assist Tajikistan in constructing an outpost on the Tajik-Afghan border, without any financial implications to the landlocked nation.
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“Of course, we will continue to assist in boosting the defense capabilities of Tajikistan, both in a bilateral format and in line with the decision of the CSTO Collective Security Council as of September 23, 2013, on strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border,” the diplomat said.
“The readiness to support the friendly nation – both bilaterally and under the CSTO – has been reaffirmed by [Russian] President Vladimir Putin during his phone conversation with [Tajik] President Emomali Rahmon in early July.
Now we are preparing for signing the intergovernmental agreement on providing free assistance to Tajikistan in building an outpost on the Tajik-Afghan border,” Rudenko added.
Earlier, Commander of Russia’s Central Military District, Col. Gen. Alexander Lapin, said on Wednesday that Russia will reinforce its military base in Tajikistan with 17 modernized infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) BMP-2M by late July.
“Mechanized infantry units of the 201st military base will receive 17 modern infantry fighting vehicles that will allow to significantly boost their combat capacities,” the statement read.
According to the Central Military District press office, new IFVs will replace outdated vehicles. BMP-2M will be delivered to Tajikistan by the Russian Aerospace Forces’ aircraft.
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BMP-2M is designed for the transportation of soldiers to the battlefields. It has an automatic fire control system, panoramic aiming and surveillance devices as well as new radio station R-168 “Akveduk” capable of working even under the radio-electronic influence.
From August 5-10, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will take part in military drills at the Kharb-Maydon training ground in the Tajik region of Khatlon bordering Afghanistan.