Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that war-ready terrorists from Iraq and Syria are “actively” entering Afghanistan.
“The situation in Afghanistan is not easy,” Putin said during a video conference with the security service chiefs of former Soviet countries.
“Terrorists from Iraq, Syria with experience in military operations are being actively drawn there,” he said.
“It is possible that terrorists may try to destabilize the situation in neighboring states,” he said, warning that they could also try “direct expansion”.
Putin has repeatedly warned that members of extremist groups could take advantage of the political turmoil in Afghanistan to enter neighboring former Soviet countries as refugees.
While Moscow has been cautiously optimistic about the new Taliban leadership in Kabul, the Kremlin is concerned about the instability in Central Asia where it has military bases.
In the wake of the Taliban takeover, Russia conducted military exercises with former Soviet Tajikistan – where it operates a military base – and in Uzbekistan. Both countries share a border with Afghanistan.
Tajikistan’s national security chief, Syumin Yetimov, for his part, told video conference that he had recorded the “intensity” of attempts to “smuggle drugs, arms, ammunition” into his country from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has long been the world’s largest producer of opium and heroin, with profits from the illegal trade helping to fund the Taliban.
Earlier on Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Tajikistan’s leader Emomali Rahmon in Paris, vowing to help the Central Asian state maintain stability.
While the Taliban has said it does not pose a threat to Central Asian countries, former Soviet republics in the region have previously been targeted by attacks attributed to allies of Afghan Islamists.
Last week, Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin’s envoy to Afghanistan, said Russia would invite the Taliban to Moscow for international talks on Afghanistan to be held on October 20.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)