Russia helps Tajikistan in responding to security threats posed by Afghanistan: Ambassador

DUSHANBE, Jan 25: Moscow is doing everything possible to help Dushanbe deal with security threats coming from conflict-prone neighboring Afghanistan, notably, through the two countries’ cooperation in the defense sector, Russian Ambassador to Tajikistan Igor Lyakin-Frolov told Sputnik.

“Of course, the unstable situation in Afghanistan affects [Tajikistan], very seriously, and it is the main source of security threats to the Republic of Tajikistan … The Russian side … is doing its best to help friendly Tajikistan both in a bilateral format and within [regional organizations],” Lyakin-Frolov said, adding that Moscow also shared Dushanbe’s concerns that the situation in Afghanistan continued to degrade despite attempts to handle it, including at the international level.

The ambassador stressed that those areas in Afghanistan that are occupied by extremists were a hotbed of terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

“[In this context,] defense cooperation between Russia and Tajikistan is becoming increasingly important,” the diplomat noted, stressing the importance of the 201st Russian military base, which serves as a reliable guarantor of security and stability both in the republic and in the region.

Lyakin-Frolov also said that the Tajik armed forces received modern weapons and military equipment from Russia as part of their modernization, which also involved military training at the Russian Defense Ministry’s universities and at the 201st base.

“In December 2017, Tajikistan received a large supply of Russian equipment ? tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, artillery ? worth more than $120 million,” the ambassador added.

The 201st military base accommodates the largest ground force of the Russian Armed Forces, stationed outside the country. The agreement allowing Russian troops to stay at a military base in Tajikistan expires in 2042.

Afghanistan has been living in a state of political and social turmoil for decades, with the government fighting the continuing Taliban insurgency, while other extremist groups have been expanding their activities both in the country and neighboring states. In 2015, the notorious Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) started operating in Afghanistan as well. The Afghan military carries out regular counterterrorism operations.