Russian troops have never left Tajikistan, but for the past five years they have served as “peacekeepers” under a dubious mandate from the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Russian forces lend muscle to the diplomatic campaign to resolve the conflict between the government and the United Tajik Opposition. As that conflict winds down, the commander of the Russian forces has taken to defining his mission as “protection of the CIS southern border against expansion of Islamic extremism.” Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan signed a “Declaration of Cooperation” last month that requires all the parties to provide military assistance in the event of aggression against any of them. That is justification for further expansion and extension of Russia’s military presence.
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