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Tajik Official Rules Out Return Of Russian Border Guards

A trooper patrols along the Afghan-Tajik border.
A trooper patrols along the Afghan-Tajik border.
A senior Tajik border guard official has ruled out the renewed stationing of Russian border guards along Tajikistan's borders, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

General Sharaf Fayzulloev, deputy commander of Tajikistan's border guard forces, said on March 15 that Tajik border guards have been in full control of Tajikistan's borders since 2005, when Russian border guards withdrew from the Tajik-Afghan border.

Speaking in Dushanbe after a meeting with EU Special Representative for Central Asia Pierre Morel, Fayzulloev said Tajik guards have proven they are capable of defending the country's borders and its independence.

At the same time, he said Tajikistan hopes to meet emerging material needs "with the help of its friends."

Fayzulloev said Tajikistan inherited old border posts, technical equipment, vehicles, weapons, and other equipment -- much of which is decades old and is now obsolete.

Fayzulloev said that thanks to the United States, all border crossings along the Tajik-Afghan border and the country's international airports are equipped with modern technology.

He said Tajikistan continues to discuss border cooperation with Russia, but the return of Russian guards to the Tajik-Afghan border is not on the agenda. Since 2005, only Russian military advisers have been deployed on Tajik borders.

The current Tajik-Russian agreement on border issues expires next month. Some Kremlin officials have said Russian border guards are ready to return to the Tajik-Afghan border if asked, but Dushanbe replied that Tajik border guards can control the borders without help from their Russian colleagues.

Morel also met in Dushanbe with President Emomali Rahmon to discuss cooperation between the EU and Tajikistan and the security situation in Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.

Morel heads a working group composed of members of the joint EU-Tajik Council on cooperation that will meet today to discuss regional border security, dialogue on the use of water resources, and cooperation between the EU and Tajikistan in such spheres as health, social security, small business development, and human rights.