At a summit in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, CSTO member states resolved to reinforce the Russia-led bloc’s southern border with Afghanistan and hold military drills in a month

Leaders of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) gathering in the Tajik capital Dushanbe have announced a plan to strengthen security cooperation in the region that includes sending troops to the Tajik-Afghan border.

"The participants in the session agreed to fortify the CSTO’s southern borders and continue to plan and implement a package of measures aimed at bringing down the level of and neutralizing potential threats in the organization’s space," Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, whose country currently holds the CSTO’s rotating presidency, said after the meeting on Thursday, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Leaders of member states Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus and Tajikistan took part in the meeting alongside the organization’s secretary-general Stanislav Zas and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who joined via video link due to close contact with several people who tested positive for Covid-19.

The Eurasian alliance of former Soviet States discussed potential security implications for the bloc after the Taliban takeover, as well as the possibility of facing an influx of refugees fleeing the country as Afghanistan faces a looming humanitarian crisis.

“The organization has worked out practical collective measures to ensure Tajikistan's security in the event of a worsening of the border situation,” Stanislav Zas said in a statement.

Among those measures, the statements explain, are a series of military drills the CSTO Collective Forces will hold near the Tajik-Afghan border in a month, as well as strengthening military presence along Tajikistan’s 1,344-kilometre border with Afghanistan, the only border the bloc shares with its beleaguered neighbour.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose founding members include Russia and China alongside former Soviet Central Asian states, also met for talks in Dushanbe this week. India and Pakistan joined the SCO in 2017, while Iran’s bid for accession was officially endorsed on Friday. Afghanistan holds observer status at the SCO, but the new Taliban-led government was not invited to observe proceedings in Dushanbe.

The meetings, centring on the Afghanistan crisis, come as both Moscow and Beijing move to assert themselves as key players in the region following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops. 

Since the Taliban began an offensive that led to the fall of Kabul last month, Russia has conducted military exercises in CSTO member states Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as joint drills with Uzbekistan, which shares a 144-kilometre border with Afghanistan.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies