Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Russia Will Help Central Asian Countries Deal with Afghan Threat Only After They’ve Exhausted Their Own Resources, Andrey Grozin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 31 – Moscow continues to stand ready to help the Central Asian countries respond to any threat from Afghanistan, but it will do so only after that threat grows to the point that they cannot meet it after deploying all their own resources, according to Andrey Grozin, a Central Asian specialist at the Moscow Institute for CIS Countries.

            He says that peace in Afghanistan is “an oxymoron” and that there will be difficult days ahead. Everyone would like things to stabilize but that is unlikely anytime soon. What the Taliban will do now either at home or beyond their own borders is unknown (stanradar.com/news/full/46339-moskva-menjaet-podhod-k-afganistanu-i-snimaet-s-sebja-otvetstvennost-za-bezopasnost-tsentralnoj-azii-ekspert.html).

            “No one reliably knows whether they will cross the border of Afghanistan after establishing complete control over their own territory or remain within the country. No one knows what to expect from them and how ready they are in fact to live up to their promises, Grozin continues.

            The countries of Central Asia and Russia are thus confronted by different tasks. “Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan which border Afghanistan must strengthen their borders. And Russia, according to its possibilities must help its partners and to a certain degree follow the principle of ‘bearing responsibility for those whom it is attached to.’”

            This means, he continues, “that Russia will not fight in Afghanistan and it also means that Rsusia no longer will bear total responsibility for the security of the countries of Central Asia.” The countries there bear primary responsibility and Russia will back them up only if things get out of control.

            For Russia, Afghanistan is hardly central geopolitically. And it is entirely reasonable for Russians to ask why it should have to bear the burden of the defense of Central Asia until the Central Asians have done all they can. The Kremlin isn’t interested in fighting for any country more than that country is prepared to fight for itself.

            Some in Central Asia have tried to use the Afghan threat to extract more from Russia, but the recent military exercise near the Afghan border was a signal of what Moscow will and won’t do.  “Moscow will help and is ready to help with financing, logistics and so on. But it will not fight in Afghanistan and it won’t pay to solve the problems of Bishkek and Dushanbe out of its own pocket.”

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