Speaking at his 14th annual end-of-year press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted on December 20 that Russia will have to keep strengthening its military base in Tajikistan until the situation in neighboring Afghanistan is settled.

"We believe that the situation can be settled solely by way of accords among the parties to the political process in Afghanistan," the Russian president stressed.

And as long as the situation remains unsettled, "we will be forced to strengthen our military base in Tajikistan," the Russian president said.

Moscow is ready to facilitate efforts to resolve the situation in Afghanistan, he added.

He was hopeful that all Afghan political forces and ethnic groups would be able to reach an agreement. "As long as it is in our power, we will facilitate this process, particularly through boosting economic cooperation with Afghanistan and taking part in various international projects, such as TAPI [Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline]," Putin stressed.

There remains widespread speculation about the future of Afghanistan and its impact on Central Asia’s security, including the risks presented by CIS recruits to ISIS returning to their homelands.   

Recall, in a statement delivered at the SCO defense ministers’ meeting in Astana, Shoigu noted on June 7, 2017 that “the rise of ISIL militants in Afghanistan causes particular concern, since their number has reached 3,500, while the terror group’s strategy, aimed at creating a caliphate, poses threat not only to Afghanistan’s security but also to the security of neighboring countries.”  Russia is reinforcing its military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with state-of-the-art weapons to stonewall shifting terrorist activity from Afghanistan to Central Asia, the Russian defense minister went on.

The Russian military base deployed in Tajikistan is Russia's largest non-naval military facility outside the country.  It was officially opened in Tajikistan in 2004 under a previous agreement, which was signed in 1993, and hosts Russia’s largest military contingent deployed abroad.

A total of some 7,000 Russian troops are now stationed at two military facilities collectively known as the 201st military base - in Dushanbe and Bokhtar (formerly Qurghon Teppa, some 100 kilometers from Dushanbe.