Moscow says it's ready to help Tajikistan deal with threats from neighbouring Afghanistan and that CSTO military alliance will need to cooperate actively to protect its southern flank.
The Russian-led CSTO military bloc will be ready to mobilise its full military capacity if the situation on the border with Afghanistan deteriorates, the Interfax news agency has cited one of the bloc's chiefs as saying, while Moscow promised help to Tajikistan which has seen influx of refugees and Afghan troops fleeing northern Afghanistan.
Tajikistan has asked the six-nation Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) to help it face threats from neighbouring Afghanistan, where the security situtation has deteriorated rapidly.
Foreign forces are withdrawing after almost 20 years of fighting, and the Taliban has gained ground. Hundreds of Afghan security personnel fled across the border into Tajikistan last week.
Moscow, which has a military base in Tajikistan and an air base in Kyrgyzstan, sees former Soviet Central Asia as part of its historic sphere of influence.
The CSTO comprises the ex-Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Russia and Tajikistan.
Moscow says ready to help Dushanbe
Russia said on Thursday it was ready to help Tajikistan deal with any fallout from the US exit from Afghanistan and that the CSTO military alliance would need to cooperate actively to protect its southern flank.
Russia's ambassador to Tajikistan met a CSTO task force sent to monitor the Afghan border, the embassy said.
"The Russian side's readiness to provide the necessary help to Dushanbe within bilateral strategic (relations) was underlined, as was the need for active political military cooperation among CSTO member states to ensure security at the organisation's southern borders," it said in a statement.
The head of Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security described the situation on Afghansitan's border with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as difficult, and said there was a serious threat for Kyrgyzstan as well.
"The forces that could cross into Uzbek and Tajik territory could also end up on our territory. We are preparing for such threats, there is active work underway and intelligence and counter-intelligence operations are being carried out actively," Kamchybek Tashiev was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
Taliban delegation in Moscow for talks?
The Russian news agency, meanwhile, reported the presence of Taliban delegation in Moscow for talks.
Quoting a source, it said a delegation of the Afghan Taliban's political office was in Moscow on Thursday, without giving further details.
Taliban's political office said the insurgents will not attack Afghanistan-Tajikistan border, Russian News Agency TASS reported on Thursday, as the group's blistering campaign continues to capture new territory in northern Afghanistan.
Taliban said it does not seek to seize power in Afghanistan militarily and it won't allow Afghanistan to be used for attacks on Russia, TASS reported.
Also on Thursday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the nation faced a difficult transition as US troops complete their withdrawal, but insisted government forces had the capacity to fight the Taliban.
"What we are witnessing is one of the most complicated stages of the transition on the face of the earth," he said in a speech in Kabul, as fierce clashes raged for control of a provincial capital in the country's west.
Emboldened Taliban presses into new areas
US President Joe Biden was due to speak on the US pullout later in the day after meeting his national security team.
The withdrawal of US and NATO troops – after two decades in the country – has drastically emboldened the Taliban, who appear to be pressing for a full military victory.
Supposed peace talks between the insurgents and the government in Doha have largely fizzled out after months of deadlock.