The main security threat to Central Asia comes from Afghanistan — Russian FM

BISHKEK (TCA) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov believes that the main security threat in Central Asia comes from Afghanistan.

“ISIS’ attempts to gain a foothold in northern Afghanistan and boost their strength by recruiting militants from other terrorist groups are particularly worrisome,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn magazine published on March 15.

The text of the interview is published on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Lavrov reminded that last August, an ISIS-related suicide bomber attacked the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek.

Lavrov said that the sufficiently high level of trans-border movement by foreign terrorists seeking to return to their countries after they took part in hostilities in the Middle East and northern Africa is very dangerous as well. “The number of CIS citizens involved with the jihadists has reached several thousand. We are worried by terrorism’s collusion with organised crime and drug trafficking, a fact confirmed not only by Russian and CIS security services but also by respected international organisations. The Russian and Central Asian security services are cooperating closely on these problems.”

Lavrov said that it is hard to overestimate the importance of Russian military presence in Central Asia and the CSTO shield for cutting short security threats and maintaining stability in the region. “Transforming the CSTO into a universal organisation with a mandate to counter terrorism, illegal drug trafficking and cyberthreats is designed to boost its potential. Some important steps were taken in this area last year. In September, the CSTO Collective Security Strategy until 2025 was adopted. In the counterterrorism area, additional measures in the fight against terrorism were approved and an agreement was reached on compiling a Unified List of Terrorist Organisations. The Crisis Response Centre became operative and a Russian initiative to establish an anti-drug centre is being studied,” he said.

Lavrov dismissed allegations about Russia’s “neo-imperial” ambitions or even plans to restore the USSR as belonging to the “genre of science fiction”. “Russia has always treated with respect the former Soviet republics’ choice in favour of independence and independent development. We are cooperating in various formats and this cooperation is based strictly on the principles of equality and regard for each other’s interests. This concerns in full measure the Central Asian states. We are cooperating productively both bilaterally and at integration organisations, including the CIS, the CSTO, the EEU and the SCO,” the Russian foreign minister said.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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