Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 185

The presidents of four Central Asian countries, accompanied by their defense and security ministers, are meeting with Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and other top Russian officials in Kazakhstan’s capital Almaty today. The summit, initiated by Russia’s hospitalized president (or in his name), will review the military and political situation in the region following the Taliban movement’s victory in Afghanistan.

The Russian and Central Asian governments differ both among and within themselves in assessing developments in Afghanistan. In Moscow, security chief Aleksandr Lebed has warned of a Taliban push into Central Asia and called for drawing a line of resistance against "Islamic Fundamentalism" inside northern Afghanistan. Lebed urges propping up Afghanistan’s runaway president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and providing Russian support for ethnic Uzbek and ethnic Tajik forces commanded by Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ahmad Shah-Masood, respectively. Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov has sought to defuse Lebed’s alarmist view and called for exploring a modus vivendi with the Pushtun-based Taliban. Col. Gen. Boris Gromov, the last commander of Soviet forces in Afghanistan, has discounted the notion that the Taliban have the strength to push into Central Asia.

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