Top senator says Russia to help Afghanistan fight ISIS

Afghan forces. © Stringer
Russia will continue the free delivery of weapons to Afghanistan’s military as it is concerned by the growing influence of Islamic State and its plans to merge with the Taliban, Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko has said.

Moscow will continue to closely observe the current situation in Afghanistan and will not ignore the recent rise in activity of Taliban fighters, the Russian Senate speaker said after talks with her Afghan colleague, Fazil Hadi Muslimyar, on Tuesday.

Russia is especially concerned about the situation in Kunduz and Badakhshan, where the concentration of Taliban terrorists is on the increase, Matviyenko added.

READ MORE: No permanent peace in Afghanistan with US forces on territory

The Russian official said that her country would continue to supply Afghanistan’s military with free weapons and ammunition, and also welcomed Kabul’s intention to modernize its air force through the purchase of Russian military helicopters. She also promised help in training military and police personnel.

In late October Afghan President Ashraf Ghani asked Russian authorities for Mi-35 helicopter gunships to help suppress the Islamist insurgency that is on the increase as Western coalition forces pull out of the country.

Fazil Hadi Muslimyar said in press comments that Afghanistan greatly appreciated Russia’s assistance in its fight against terrorism. He noted that the events of the past 14 years had proved that terrorism is a common threat for all nations and must be opposed with a joint effort.

Russia has been supplying the Afghanistan government with free weaponry since 2010. Most of the deliveries have been light arms and vehicles.

READ MORE: Russia stops transit of NATO military cargo to Afghanistan

In 2014, Washington announced that its military operation in Afghanistan was over. The US-led coalition has pulled out most of its forces and the Afghan military has assumed full responsibility for national security. However, some 13,000 ISAF troops will remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2016 to oversee local forces and provide training on counter-terror operations. The pullout caused Russia to stop the transit of NATO cargo to Afghanistan through its territory in May this year.