Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 14 May 2021
Russia Pledges Support For Tajikistan Amid Deteriorating Situation In Afghanistan
During the recent Moscow visit of Tajik President Emomali Rahman, Vladimir Putin said that Russia is helping to strengthen Tajikistan’s armed forces and build up its military contingent in the country. The Kremlin is looking to stake out its military position in the Central Asian country amid a deteriorating security situation in neighboring Afghanistan. As U.S. and NATO contingents plan to leave the country, it will slip into further violence and civil war while the Taliban will only grow in force.
The leader of Tajikistan made a trip to Moscow on May 8–9. Rahmon was the only head of state to attend the Moscow ceremonies but the trip allowed him an opportunity to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 8 and again the next day during the parade on Red Square. This can be considered a symbolic emphasis from Moscow of the mounting importance of its Tajik ally. What is yet important is firm decisions. At the meeting, Putin said Russia is making efforts to build up its military facility in Tajikistan. The Central Asian state hosts about 7,000 troops from Russia. Putin did not conceal his intention to boost security across the region amid the concern over Afghanistan. After the United States and NATO started withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as of May 1, the Taliban began their offensive. Only a few days before Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made a trip to Dushanbe where he met with Rahmon. Both officials signed a deal on a common air defense space. Tajikistan seeks the best possible ties with Russia––not only amid the simmering threat in Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of Tajik jobseekers immigrated to Russia. The money they send to their families is a major part of the gross domestic product of Tajikistan––one of the poorest republics in the post-Soviet zone. Following his visit to Tajikistan, Shoigu rushed to neighboring Uzbekistan, which also borders Afghanistan. In Tashkent, he outlined a plan for Russia-Uzbekistan military cooperation for the next few years. Russian steps in the Central Asian republics around Afghanistan have another purpose in addition to the Taliban threat. Moscow may feel disturbed as some are saying that having quit Afghanistan, the United States has no intention of leaving the region. Russia could be willing to deploy some military installations in Uzbekistan or other neighbors of Afghanistan to use them in future operations if needed. The situation exacerbates further with the activity of the so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan whose rebels are fighting against the government, the Taliban, and the country’s minority Shiite Muslims. The last of them was the target of a Kabul bomb attack that killed nearly 50 people, mainly schoolgirls. The blast took place the same day when Putin hosted Rahmon in Moscow. Taliban attacks targeting the government forces will only intensify in the coming weeks approaching September 11, 2021, set as the deadline for all U.S. and NATO forces to leave Afghanistan.
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