In a statement issued by the Kremlin on Monday, officials revealed that President Vladimir Putin had raised the issue in a call with his Tajik counterpart, Emomali Rahmon.
During the exchange, the Russian leader “confirmed his readiness to provide Tajikistan with the necessary support” to resolve the growing crisis. The challenges, Moscow said, have been caused “by the escalation of armed confrontation on the territory of Afghanistan.”
Last week, at least 134 soldiers loyal to the government in Kabul crossed the border after coming under attack by Taliban militants.
“Tajik border guards, who adhere to the principles of humanity and good neighborliness, allowed Afghan soldiers to enter the territory of Tajikistan by crossing the border without any obstacles,” Tajik officials said.
The Central Asian nation is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a mutual defense pact that is made up of six former Soviet states and headquartered in Moscow.
American forces, who have been present in Afghanistan since they invaded the country in 2001, are currently in the process of withdrawing from the region. President Joe Biden announced in the spring that all US forces on deployment there would return home by September 11, 2021, exactly two decades after the terrorist attacks that sparked the military campaign.
Over the weekend, Bloomberg reported that the White House is seeking to re-home around 9,000 Afghans who had worked with American forces as translators, drivers and in other supporting roles.
However, despite fears they will be targets for reprisals, Washington is not said to be considering offering them the chance to go to the US.
Instead, officials have asked nearby Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to take in the vengeance-wary Afghans.
Taliban captures Afghanistan’s main Tajikistan border crossing
Some security forces abandon their posts and flee across the frontier as the Taliban seizes Shir Khan Bandar crossing.
The Taliban has captured Afghanistan’s main border crossing with Tajikistan, an Afghan provincial official and army officer said on Tuesday [June 22, 2021], with some security forces abandoning their posts and fleeing across the frontier.
The seizure of Shir Khan Bandar, in the far north of Afghanistan about 50km (30 miles) from Kunduz city, is the most significant gain for the Taliban since it stepped up operations on May 1 when the US began the final stages of its troop withdrawal.
“Unfortunately this morning and after an hour of fighting the Taliban captured Shir Khan port and the town and all the border check posts with Tajikistan,” said Kunduz provincial council member Khaliddin Hakmi.
An army officer told the AFP news agency: “We were forced to leave all check posts … and some of our soldiers crossed the border into Tajikistan.”
“By the morning, they (Taliban fighters) were everywhere, hundreds of them,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the fighters had seized the border crossing across the Pyanj River.
“Our Mujahideen are in full control of Shir Khan Bandar and all the border crossings with Tajikistan in Kunduz,” he told AFP.
Source: Al Jazeera
Header: Afghan forces at the site of a battle with the Taliban in Kunduz province [Reuters]