The CSTO countries should not be caught off guard by the current instability in Afghanistan and even a likely civil war there. Kabul’s inability to withstand the growing extremist threat is the key issue on the agenda of all recent regional summits.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has urged the CSTO member-states to pass from words to deeds.
"It is imperative that a likely degradation of the situation in Afghanistan be prevented from negatively affecting the entire region, Sergei Lavrov says. I am certain that, given the situation, the cooperation of CSTO member-states is becoming one of paramount importance," he added.
The media carried numerous information leaks in the run-up to the summit as to how exactly the member-states will cooperate to that end. Most experts felt that the parties to the Sochi summit would in some way or other raise the issue of sending Russian border troops back to the Afghan-Tajik border, or would consider setting up a coalition force to that end, said the head of the department of Central Asia and Kazakhstan of the Russian Institute of CIS Countries, Andrei Grozin, in an interview with the Voice of Russia. Here is more from him.
"This will naturally not run counter to Tajikistan’s interests, Andrei Grozin says. But if the situation continues deteriorating at the current rate, when extremists planning terrorist attacks are arrested in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan almost every month, then one should not rule out the deployment of Russian border troops."
The Tajik President Emomali Rahmon said that his republic’s southern border is guarded by a 16,000-man strong CSTO force, which is almost a half of the number of border troops in Tajikistan in Soviet times. But he concluded paradoxically that Dushanbe needed no reinforcements and that Tajikistan would manage to address foreign threats on its own. What the republic did need above all is technical and financial aid. In this context, the CSTO is due to shortly approve a joint programme to assist Dushanbe, said Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of the summit.
The Russian leader pointed out that there was next to no time for empty talk. Now is the crucial moment to test the CSTO for destruction.
"The situation in Afghanistan should not catch us off guard, whatever scenario it may follow, Vladimir Putin says. Strengthening the defence capability and improving battle-worthiness of CSTO units will help to effectively stave off terrorist and extremist threats."
But the Russian leader emphasized that it was no longer possible to counteract terrorism on the national or regional level. He said his point was graphically illustrated by the recent tragedy in Kenya, as well as by the situation in Syria, where the fighting armed gangs have not emerged out of nowhere and will not disappear into thin air, Vladimir Putin said.