The high command of Russia’s border troops held a special policy meeting in Dushanbe and inspected Russian troops on the Tajik-Afghan border on March 30-31. The newly appointed head of Russia’s Security Council, Andrey Kokoshin, chaired the meeting, which was also attended by senior officials of the Defense Ministry and intelligence agencies. The meeting resolved to maintain Russian border troops and hardware in Tajikistan at the existing levels for the foreseeable future. It ruled out as "premature" the idea of sharing control with Tajik troops on the border. It equally turned down Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov’s requests to beef up Russian forces on the border.
Rahmonov, who participated in the meeting, also urged Russia to play a more active role in the affairs of Afghanistan. He complained that Moscow is excessively preoccupied with conflict resolution in Europe and the Middle East, to the detriment of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The Russian commanders and officials played up the problem of drug trafficking from Pakistan and Afghanistan via Tajikistan and on to Europe to justify the continuing deployment of Russian troops despite the signing of inter-Tajik peace agreements. Kokoshin states several times that Russian troops there perform a service to "the whole CIS" and "the entire international community." The manpower of Russian border troops in Tajikistan is currently down to 14,000, from a high of 17,000. In addition, the 210th "peacekeeping" division of the Russian army has 8,000 soldiers in the interior of Tajikistan. (Itar-Tass and other Russian agencies, March 30 and 31)
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