Russia gives up Afghan border control in Tajikistan

The border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is still one of the most problematic borders in CIS

Russia started passing the Afghan border control to Tajikistan. Tajik border guards will be in charge of about two-thirds of the border with Afghanistan by the middle of December of 2004.

The chairman of the committee for border defense in Tajikistan, Abdurakhmon Azimov, said that a special bilateral workgroup would supervise the procedure to hand over the Pamir stretch of the border to Tajikistan. Tajik border guards will start commanding three mountainous patrol units already next month.

According to the agreement signed by presidents Putin and Rakhmonov a month ago, Russian border guards will give away all movable estate, including the ammunition and military hardware to their Tajik colleagues to maintain security on the border.

Deputy director of the federal service for drug trafficking control, Alexander Mikhailov stated that Russian special services were developing special measures to prevent the growth of drug trafficking from Afghanistan to Tajikistan when the Russian border guards leave the territory. The drug trafficking issue has always been extremely important as far as the above-mentioned part of the border is concerned.

The border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is still one of the most problematic borders on the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The basic routes of drug deliveries from Central Asia, Afghanistan first and foremost, cross the border on their way to Western Europe. In addition, armed groups of bellicose Islamites transgressed the border on numerous occasions to make their way to Tajikistan. A lot of Russian border guards were killed in battles with them.

The situation with patrolling the Tajik-Afghan border started changing since 2001, when the Taliban regime collapsed in Kabul and US and NATO troops appeared in the region. American and NATO military men were deployed in Tajikistan too, within the scope of the antiterrorist campaign. Tajik authorities started saying later that they did not need the assistance of Russian border guards anymore.

Russian border guards started patrolling the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan over 100 years ago, from the end of the 19th century. This border was the extreme southern territory of the USSR – it became strategically important at the end of the 1970s, when the Soviet Union deployed its troops in Afghanistan.

The territory found itself under Tajikistan's jurisdiction after the break-up of the USSR. However, the young republic was obviously incapable of defending its own territorial integrity and guaranteeing safety on the Afghan border. Tajikistan handed over the patrol of the border to Russia. The Russian-Tajik agreement on the joint border defense was signed in May of 1993.

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Author`s name Olga Savka