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PUTIN WARNS OF EXTREMIST THREATS FROM AFGHANISTAN

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Russian Vladimir Putin in a virtual meeting with heads of intelligence from countries in the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independence States (CIS) on Wednesday warned against the threat of extremism from Afghanistan.

Pointing to recent developments in Afghanistan, Putin said a number of international terrorist groups operate in Afghanistan, saying that a number of militants who fought alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria are now active in Afghanistan.

"A number of international terrorist groups affiliated with ISIS continue to operate in the country," Putin said, “Militants with combat experience from Iraq and Syria are actively assembling there.”

According to Putin, these groups pose security threats to CIS countries, adding that neutralizing the potential threats from Afghanistan is important. 

He said Russia and CIS countries should constantly monitor the situation on the Afghanistan border with Central Asia and be ready to repel any threats. “We can't rule out that the terrorists could attempt to destabilize the situation in nearby countries, including CIS countries, or even attempt direct expansion,” he said.

Sergei Naryshkin, Russia's foreign intelligence service director, warned against the United States’ presence in Central Asia, saying that "Washington is not only planning, but already fulfilling its destructive plans."

Putin’s remarks followed reports that the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will hold military drills in Tajikistan, near the border of Afghanistan, on October 22nd and 23rd.

Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan held a military drill in Tajikistan near the border of Afghanistan in August, amid the peak of fighting in Afghanistan and while the former Afghan government was still in place.

 Around 2,500 Russian, Tajik, and Uzbek troops participated in the military exercise.

Tajikistan is part of the CSTO and has a long border with Afghanistan. It recently reported that relations between the Islamic Emirate and Tajikistan had soured.

Putin has also said the United States' 20-years involvement in Afghanistan has led to ‘tragedy’ in the country.