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Tajikistan Reportedly Calls On Allies For Help With Security Challenges From Afghanistan


A Tajik guard stands on a bridge to Afghanistan across the Panj River at the Panji Poyon border outpost. (file photo)

Tajikistan has appealed to members of a Russian-led military alliance of ex-Soviet states for help in dealing with security challenges emerging from neighboring Afghanistan, according to media reports.

Dushanbe's call came hours after Moscow vowed to defend its Central Asian allies threatened by the intensifying violence in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has captured large swaths of territory in northern Afghanistan as foreign troops exit the country, with over 1,000 Afghan civilians and servicemen fleeing to neighboring Tajikistan in recent days.

Tajik authorities say that two-thirds of the 1,357-kilometer border with Afghanistan is under Taliban control and they are preparing for an influx of refugees to enter the country. They say they are already providing Afghan refugees with food and shelter.

In an appeal on July 7 to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance that besides Tajikistan also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, Dushanbe said it could not manage the instability at its border without external assistance.

"Given the current situation in the region, as well as the remoteness and mountainous terrain of some parts of the border with Afghanistan, dealing with this challenge on our own seems difficult," Russia's RIA Novosti news agency quoted Hasan Sultonov, the Tajik representative at the CSTO, as saying.

"Therefore, we would like to call on the member states of the organization to contribute to the full implementation" of a 2013 resolution to provide assistance to Tajikistan in strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border, Sultonov said, according to Armenia's Armen Press.

His comments came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was ready to use its military base in Tajikistan, one of its largest abroad, to ensure the security of its allies in the region.

"We will do everything we can, including using the capabilities of the Russian military base on Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan, to prevent any aggressive impulses toward our allies," Lavrov said on July 7.

Following a top security meeting on July 5, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon ordered 20,000 reserve officers to the Afghan border.

He also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his counterparts from fellow Central Asian states Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan about the situation in Afghanistan.

On July 4, Rahmon spoke with his Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, about the "alarming" situation along the border, according to Tajik state media.

According to a Kremlin statement, Putin said that Moscow was ready to "provide Tajikistan with the necessary support," both on a bilateral basis and through the CSTO.

With reporting by RIA Novosti, Armen Press, and Reuters
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