By: Ulviye FILIYEVA ERKEC
The situation after the NATO troops left Afghanistan continues to worry not only Kabul, but also neighbouring and regional states. While the conflicts in the north of the country caused the closure of some representative offices in Afghanistan, Tajikistan is working on strengthening its southern border with Afghanistan.
According to the statements made by the Russian authorities on the subject, we can interpret it as embodying the possibility that Russia may intervene in Afghanistan.
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met with his counterpart Salemsai Kommasit in Laos on July 7, 2021 answered journalists’ questions and then discussed the issues of promoting friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Speaking about the issues on the agenda at the press conference, Lavrov made important statements about the crisis that occurred in the region after the withdrawal of the NATO troops from Afghanistan and said that the situation rapidly deteriorated. He has noted that the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin had telephone conversations with the leaders of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and is also currently in contact with other leaders of Central Asia. Lavrov also added “We are closely following what is happening in Afghanistan, where the situation is prone to deteriorate rapidly after the withdrawal of American and other NATO troops.”
On July 5, 2021, Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told to the reporters that Russia would not send any troops to Afghanistan.
However, on July 7, 2021, Lavrov underlined that Moscow is ready to do everything to protect its allies and announced that it is ready to use the Russian military base in Tajikistan to prevent further escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan.
The military base in Tajikistan is Russia’s largest military base outside its territory. Russian tanks and helicopters have been deployed to this base.
Putin also promised to support Tajikistan. On the 5th of July, two Central Asian countries neighboring Afghanistan made urgent contact with Russia regarding the progress of the Taliban in the process of withdrawing American troops. The Kremlin announced that Putin held separate phone calls with his counterparts from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan about this mobilization in Afghanistan.
On July 5, 2021, approximately 1000 Afghan soldiers fleeing the Taliban took refuge in Tajikistan. Therewith, President Imamali Rahman ordered to send 20,000 soldiers to the Afghanistan border. Afghan government forces are also planning a counterattack.
Meanwhile, Russia maintains the security of the Tajik-Afghan border by exercising attack helicopters.
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko repeated on July 6, 2021 that Russia’s military base in Tajikistan is fully equipped to secure the Afghanistan border and that Moscow will take extra measures to protect Tajikistan if necessary.
Russia fired missiles from air to ground during a training exercise to show that Russian military helicopters in Tajikistan were ready to secure the Afghanistan border on July 6, 2021.
Also, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov answered a question about Russia’s possible response to the deteriorating situation on the Tajik-Afghan border. He also said that Moscow’s commitments under the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) remain valid. The CSTO Secretariat added that its representatives visited the region.