The success of the Islamic fundamentalist movement, Taliban, in gaining control of most of Afghanistan has exposed rifts in Moscow over the proper response to the situation. Russia’s chief security official, Aleksandr Lebed, persists (as he did even during his visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels) in claiming that the Taliban are about to move against Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Lebed has urged that Russia draw a forward line of defense inside Afghanistan by supporting a coalition of ethnic Uzbek and ethnic Tajik forces in that country. Several senior military officials have quietly echoed Lebed. They cite intelligence reports on alleged Taliban plans to annex Bukhara from Uzbekistan and to join the opposition forces inside Tajikistan.
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