DUSHANBE (TCA) — Russia wants to expand its air force deployment to Tajikistan and is in talks with Dushanbe for joint use of an air base in the country, the Russian ambassador to Tajikistan said on December 27, RFE/RL reported.
Russia already has an infantry base near Dushanbe with up to 7,000 troops stationed there and last year deployed four attack and transport helicopters to nearby Ayni air base.
Ambassador Igor Lyakin-Frolov told reporters in Dushanbe that the Russian and Tajik governments were in talks over an agreement that would allow Russia joint use of the Ayni base and to expand its presence there.
In the meantime, the recent meeting of presidents of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization member states on December 26 in St. Petersburg discussed giving Tajikistan more assistance in guarding its border with Afghanistan amid deteriorating security there.
The meeting was attended by the presidents of Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Speaking at the meeting, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon pointed out that the current situation requires more responsibility from the CSTO member states to strengthen cooperation and take operational measures to counter any regional and international threats and challenges, Rakhmon’s press service said.
Rakhmon also called on the heads of the CSTO member states to give priority to the protection and strengthening of the state border of Tajikistan with Afghanistan, as an important measure of joint fight against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, and other transnational organized crimes.