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Russia's Putin Warns Of Afghan Threat

Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) chairs a Security Council meeting in Moscow on May 8.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) chairs a Security Council meeting in Moscow on May 8.
President Vladimir Putin says Russia must strengthen security in its southern regions and work with Central Asian allies to protect itself against the threat of extremist violence emerging from Afghanistan.

Putin told a Security Council meeting on May 8 that the presence of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan had not stemmed the threats in that country and there was a danger of Afghanistan's problems spilling over its borders.

"Foreign, primarily U.S.-led military forces have not yet achieved a breakthrough in the fight against terrorist and radical groups [in Afghanistan]. There is every reason to believe that in the near future we may face a worsening of the situation," Putin said.

"International terrorist and radical groups do not hide their plans to export instability and they will probably try to move their subversive activities to bordering countries."

Russia supported the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 but has expressed concern that threats to its security could increase following the planned withdrawal of most foreign troops from the country by the end of 2014.

Putin called on members of Russia's Security Council to start taking measures now to confront a range of potential threats in the future.

"We need to strengthen the security system in the strategic southern area, including its military component, make use of the full arsenal of preventive measures, as well as the potential of the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] and SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization], Putin said.

"We need to reinforce protection of state borders, step up migration controls, accelerate the supply of modern collective operational deployment equipment, and exponentially increase the effectiveness of work to stem drug trafficking."

Putin also said international forces had "done practically nothing to eradicate drug production in Afghanistan" and warned of the threat of increased drug trafficking and a flow of illegal migrants.

With reporting by Reuters and ITAR-TASS
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