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Tajikistan: Russia Angling for Return to Tajik-Afghan Frontier

A Tajik guard checks the documents of an Afghan crossing the border. (Photo: David Trilling)

It’s clear the Kremlin has its doubts about the ability of US and NATO troops to contain Islamic militants in Afghanistan. Thus, it’s not surprising that Russian officials are expressing a desire to redeploy border forces along the Tajik-Afghan frontier. At the same time, it appears that Russia wants international back-up.

Russian troops patrolled the Tajik-Afghan border from the tsarist era until 2005, when Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon told them to leave. At the time, according to US Embassy cables released by WikiLeaks, the president told the US ambassador that he forced the Russians out because they were plotting against him and were suspected of trafficking narcotics. Allegations of drug trafficking remain widespread and, as many observers including a Western diplomat now in Dushanbe asserts; “whoever controls the border, controls the smuggling.”

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Konstantin Parshin is a freelance writer based in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan: Russia Angling for Return to Tajik-Afghan Frontier

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