Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko told Sputnik on Thursday that the Taliban* had seized almost full control of the Tajik border.
He also said that Afghanistan's northern provinces are swiftly turning into a new hotspot amid the hasty pullout of US troops, with international terrorist organisations gaining a foothold in the area.
"The consequences of the US and some NATO countries' troops hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan are becoming obvious: once relatively calm northern provinces are rapidly turning into another hotspot. The Taliban almost completely control the border with Tajikistan. Numerous international terrorist organisations, such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda branches [both banned in Russia] are gaining a foothold", Rudenko said.
In addition, foreign militants from combat zones in the Middle East and North Africa are being pulled into Afghanistan, the Russian diplomat added.
"People from Central Asia are being actively recruited into the ranks of such organisations. Drug production has reached record highs", Rudenko went on to say.
The degradation of the security situation in Afghanistan poses a direct threat to Central Asia, the official stressed.
"We share the corresponding concerns of our neighbours in the region. The importance of maintaining a coordinated effort to minimise the negative impact of these risks on our countries' security was emphasised during the fourth meeting of the heads of Russia's and Central Asian nations' foreign ministers in Tashkent on 16 July and in the adopted joint statement", Rudenko said.
Russia Vows to Back Tajikistan, Uzbekistan Amid Taliban's Growing Clout
He assured that Russia will take measures to prevent possible aggression against Tajikistan, if need be, and that Moscow will continue supporting Tajikistan in boosting its defensive capacity.
"If necessary, the Russian Federation will take all measures to prevent aggression or territorial provocations in line with the spirit of the Russian-Tajik strategic partnership and alliance", Rudenko noted.
The two countries maintain intensive contacts, both bilaterally between their respective defence ministries and via the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the diplomat added. The units of Russia's 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan conduct both routine and snap drills there.
Separately, Rudenko stressed that Russia maintains constant contact with Uzbekistan amid the developments in Afghanistan and is ready to provide assistance to Tashkent if there is a relevant request.
"Of course, we are concerned about the exacerbation of the intra-Afghan conflict and its negative impact on the neighbouring states in Central Asia, therefore, we are in constant contact with our Uzbek colleagues. Uzbekistan is our ally and strategic partner, which has a common border with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We are ready to provide additional help to our friends if such a need arises and if there is an appropriate appeal from the Uzbek leadership", the Russian deputy foreign minister said.
A source in Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security has, meanwhile, told Sputnik that “the information that the Taliban controls the entire perimeter of the border with Tajikistan does not correspond to reality”.
According to the source, the Taliban "controls no more than 80%" of the border.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, for his part, argued on Wednesday that about half of the district centres in Afghanistan are now under the control of Taliban militants.
*Taliban, a terrorist group banned in Russia and a spate of other countries