Photo: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

Despite Cordial Diplomacy, Russia Worries About Threats from Afghanistan

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Although relations between Russia and the Taliban are friendlier than most countries, Moscow remains worried about the potential threats of terrorism emanating.   Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, stated that the situation in Central Asian countries remains complicated due to threats emanating from Afghanistan. According to the TASS news agency, Shoigu made these remarks on Tuesday, February 27, during a session at the Russian Ministry of Defense.

TASS reports Shoigu saying, “The situation remains complicated in Central Asia and the main threat comes from Afghanistan.”

The Russian Defense Minister mentioned that ISIS has increased the strength of its supporters by 15% last year.

He stated that ISIS seeks to expand radical ideas in Central Asia and engage in disruptive activities along the southern borders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

“Their main goal is to spread radical ideas and carry out sabotage activities along the CSTO’s southern borders.”

The Russian Defense Minister also said that drug trafficking from Afghanistan to Central Asian countries have increased. He added, “We have a predicted figure of 20% rise in the production of drugs and their subsequent traffic across the Central Asian countries.”

From the perspective of Russian authorities, northern Afghanistan poses a threat to the Central Asian countries. Earlier, Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, had said that 20 terrorist organizations with around 23,000 militants operate in Afghanistan.

However, the Taliban reject claims of terrorist group activities in Afghanistan, asserting that the country’s soil poses no threat to any nation.

The Russian Defense Minister made similar comments last year at a meeting of defense ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Delhi, saying that extremist groups based in Afghanistan have increased their activities in Central Asian countries.

He added that the likelihood of infiltration by various international terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement is on the rise.

In response to Shoigu’s statement, Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesperson for the Taliban, said that regional countries should prevent their citizens, coming for ‘destructive’ purposes, from entering Afghanistan. He rejected Shoigu’s claims that armed groups in Afghanistan pose a threat to Central Asian countries.

Mujahid claimed that not only have the Taliban ensured security and stability in Afghanistan after years of war, but they also consider security and stability in the region as supportive of their economy-centric foreign policy.   

The Taliban spokesperson stated that Russian authorities should understand that the Taliban have managed to ‘eradicate’ ISIS from Afghanistan.