Underscoring the rapid collapse of Afghan security forces, more than 1,000 Afghan troops fled into Tajikistan overnight, Tajik border guards said on July 5.
Hundreds of Afghan security force members have fled swift Taliban advances in the north, but the latest retreats were the largest yet confirmed.
Tajik authorities say that two-thirds of the 1,357-kilometer-long border with Afghanistan is under Taliban control and they are preparing for an influx of refugees to enter the country. They are already providing the Afghan soldiers with food and shelter, according to Radio Liberty.
Following a top security meeting on July 5, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon reportedly ordered 20,000 reserve officers to the Afghan border.
He also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his counterparts from fellow Central Asian states Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan about the situation in Afghanistan.
On July 4, Rahmon spoke with his Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, about the “alarming” situation along the border, according to Tajik state media.
According to a Kremlin statement, Putin confirmed that Moscow was ready to “provide Tajikistan with the necessary support,” both on a bilateral basis and through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance that includes Tajikistan. Russia has a military base in Tajikistan.
Since U.S. President Joe Biden in April announced U.S. troop would withdraw, the Taliban has unleashed a quick offensive and now controls about one-third of the country’s 421 districts and district centers.
Some of the most significant Taliban gains have been in the militants’ sweep across northern Afghanistan, which borders Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
According to a recent analysis by the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a Kabul think tank, the Taliban strategy in the north “looks like a preemptive strike to prevent a northern opposition from organizing.”