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Tajikistani-Afghan border forecasts are getting increasingly pessimistic

December 10, 2013, 13:26 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Moscow, Dushanbe will not discuss return of Russia's border guards to Afghan border

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MOSCOW, December 10. /ITAR-TASS/. The issue of the return of Russian border guards to the Afghan-Tajikistani border is currently not on the agenda, despite the possible aggravation of the situation in Afghanistan after the withdrawal from the country in 2014 of the main part of the NATO and U.S. military contingent, Russian Ambassador to Tajikistan Igor Lyakin-Frolov said in an interview published by the Kommersant daily on Tuesday.

“As far as I know, this issue is currently not discussed at the interstate level or within the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation),” the diplomat said.

According to the official, just several months ago, the Tajikistani leadership and experts had a prevailing view that the “situation in Afghanistan is more or less normal, and there is no direct threat to Tajikistan.” However, at present “forecasts are getting increasingly pessimistic” and “everybody proceeds from the principle that it is necessary to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

“The most favorable scenario suggests that the current power will be preserved only in Kabul and in most provincial centers with support of part of the U.S. and NATO contingents. There are also less favorable ones that suggest that a full-scale civil war may begin that would pose a threat to integrity of the Afghan state and Central Asian security, consequently, Russia’s security. Therefore, we should get prepared,” Lyakin-Frolov said. The Kommersant daily writes that a special meeting of Russian ambassadors to Central Asian countries and Afghanistan that will focus on the regional threats after the pullout in 2014 of the main part of the foreign military contingent from Afghanistan, will be held on December 10.

The Russian ambassador to Tajikistan said that “the border troops of Tajikistan are currently fully staffed with officers and soldiers - their numerical strength is some 16,000 men,” and the “Tajikistani border guards are well trained - many officers have undergone training in Russia’s academies.” According to him, Tajikistani officials believe that “they could ensure reliable border protection with technical support from Russia and the CSTO countries.”

“The issue of returning Russia’s border guards to the Tajikistani-Afghan border is not raised by our Tajikistani partners,” stressed Lyakin-Frolov, adding that “for more than 20 years the border cooperation group of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has been operating” in Tajikistan, “providing practical assistance in organizing protection of the Tajikistani-Afghan border, its defense and technical support and the training of border guard personnel.”

Russia's ambassador in Dushanbe said that the deliveries of weapons and ammunition would be made to the country in January 2014 under the decision taken at the CSTO September summit on the provision of assistance to Tajikistan in the protection of its border with Afghanistan. These deliveries will be carried out in addition to the existing Russian-Tajikistani military-technical assistance program.

The diplomat said that Moscow and Dushanbe continued the process of negotiating of deliveries to Tajikistan of Russian weapons worth “tens of millions of dollars.” The Tajikistani side is expected to receive, among other items, small arms, armor equipment, air defense equipment, aircraft and “many other things.” Russia will also supply to Tajikistan armaments and military equipment for the assault combat brigade of the Tajikistani army that is included in the CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Force.

Speaking about Moscow-Dushanbe military-technical cooperation, Lyakin-Frolov stressed that Russia remained Tajikistan’s leading partner in this sphere. According to him, since 2005, the volume of Russia’s military and technical assistance to the republic has exceeded 411 million U.S. dollars, including the handover, repair and modernization of military equipment, deliveries of armaments, munitions and defense products. As many as 2,014 cadets and students from Tajikistan have undergone free training at Russia’s military academies. At present, more than 450 Tajikistani military are learning in Russia; this year, the annual free quota for their training in Russia has been increased to 150 people.

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