In comments today, Russian FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov warned that there is a growing concentration of ISIS fighters, along with Taliban groups that may have split with the leadership and planned to join ISIS, along the Afghan northern border, making the risk of invasions of Central Asia “tangible.”
The comments likely are meant to add impetus to the Russian Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes multiple former Soviet states bordering Afghanistan, and Russia has particularly cited concerns about Tajikistan’s security, because of Taliban interests in the area around Kunduz.
Adding to the alarm at this point is that, in the wake of Monday’s earthquake, Taliban forces seized the Darqand District of Takhar, giving it some significant border presence along Tajikistan. The district’s defenses were dramatically weakened by the earthquake, which was hindering reinforcements.
Over the 14 years of NATO occupation of Afghanistan, almost all of the spill-over violence has gone south, into Pakistan, but with the growing presence of the rebel factions in the north, and groups like ISIS having less nation-specific goals, this spillover becomes a real possibility.