Russia wants CSTO security alliance to boost cooperation over Afghanistan

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow will work more closely with fellow members of the post-Soviet security alliance. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Moscow will work more closely with fellow members of a post-Soviet security alliance as the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan raises regional security risks, Russia's defence minister was quoted as saying on Saturday (Aug 28).

The US exit from Afghanistan has created a security headache for Moscow, which sees former Soviet Central Asia as part of its southern defensive flank and fears the spread of radical Islam.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow had stepped up contacts within the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a Moscow-led alliance that groups six former Soviet states.

"We're in close contact with CSTO members over Afghanistan ... That's why our interaction within CSTO should be strengthened," Shoigu was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.

He said the risk of Afghan militants crossing into neighbouring countries had spread following the Taleban's rapid takeover of the country this month as US forces withdrew.

Drug trafficking is another concern, he added.

The CSTO said on Friday it would hold military exercises in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan from September to October involving several thousand troops due to the situation in Afghanistan.

Shoigu said an ongoing programme to rearm the armies of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would continue.

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