Russia wants to expand its air force deployment to Tajikistan and is in talks with Dushanbe for joint use of an air base in the former Soviet republic, the Russian ambassador to Dushanbe said on December 27.
Russia already has an infantry base near Dushanbe with up to 7,000 troops stationed there and last year deployed four attack and transport helicopters to nearby Ayni air base.
Ambassador Igor Lyakin-Frolov told reporters in Dushanbe that the Russian and Tajik governments were in talks over an agreement that would allow Russia joint use of the Ayni base and to expand its presence there.
Meanwhile, members of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization meeting in St. Petersburg also discussed giving Tajikistan more assistance in guarding its border with Afghanistan amid deteriorating security.
Tajikistan is seen by Russia and the West as a prime conduit for Islamist militants. The Ferghana Valley, a fertile and densely populated strip of land that straddles Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, is considered to be the heart of Islamist militancy in Central Asia, whose main target is Russia.
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