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Russia doesn’t want Afghan terrorists in guise of refugees in Central Asia, says Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that the conflict in Afghanistan directly affects the security situation in Russia.

Putin said Russia does not want Afghanistan militants arriving in Central Asia under cover of refugees, RIA news agency quoted him as saying.

He criticised the plan of some Western countries to send refugees from Afghanistan to neighbouring Central Asian countries while their visas to the United States and Europe are being processed, according to reports by Russian news agencies.  

It is Russia’s concern over the potential of Islamic militancy spilling into its backyard that has prompted it to carry out military exercises with Central Asian countries like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan recently when the Taliban forces were advancing into the northern areas of Afghanistan.  Russia also has military bases in the region.

In fact, the Russian Defense Ministry regularly brings up the precarious situation on the border between Central Asia and Afghanistan and uses it as a reason for continued cooperation and military exercises with the countries of the region to ensure its security.

Also read:   India, Iran and Russia go into a huddle to tackle return of the Taliban in Afghanistan

Putin’s statement comes at a time when Britain has said it would have to turn to Russia and China to exercise a "moderating influence" over the Taliban, despite a souring of relations with them in recent times.

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper cited UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as saying: "We're going to have to bring in countries with a potentially moderating influence like Russia and China, however uncomfortable that is."

Diplomatic relations between UK and Russia have turned sour since the 2018 poisoning with a Soviet-developed nerve agent of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, who betrayed hundreds of Russian agents to Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service. The ties worsened after a BBC journalist working in Moscow was told to leave the country recently.

Britain and China also have serious difference over issues such as civil rights in Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuses against China's Uyghur Muslim minority group in Xinjiang province.