Russia began airstrikes in Syria not only to support the Syrian government, but also to prevent militants fighting for the Islamic State (IS) to return to their home countries. Countries from the former Soviet Union (FSU) including Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and the Central Asian countries have seen citizens leaving to fight with various terrorist organizations.
In fact, FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov estimated that more than 100 countries are now fighting for IS in Syria and Iraq. Bortnikov also said that the threat for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is constantly growing as militants return home.
“Militants returning from hot spots in the Middle East and in the Afghanistan-Pakistan zone present a threat to security of CIS countries,” Bortnikov told the session of the CIS council of heads of security services and special services. “After acquiring practical skills in disguise, mine blast waves and waging combat actions in urban environments, they set up autonomous militant cells ready to carry out terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage. The aim of terrorists and their curators is to destabilize the situation in the CIS countries,” Bortnikov stressed.
“In such conditions, considering ineffectiveness of the US-led international coalition on neutralizing a terrorist threat in the Middle East, Russia responded to the Syrian leadership’s request to provide military aid with the aim to prevent mass return of bandits to their home countries. As you know, the aforementioned operation has already showed significant results,” he said.
Bortnikov further said that the situation in Afghanistan present an expanding threat to the Central Asia countries. He stated that IS and the Taliban are joining forces with local groups and could very well attempt an incursion in Central Asia. He urged for an “increasing exchange of preventive intelligence information about terrorists’ personal data, their plans and supporters.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote to the CIS council of heads of security services and special services that it is essential to “steadily increase the level of cooperation.”
“The current geopolitical situation in the world requires to intensify search for effective ways to respond to modern threats and challenges,” Putin wrote. “Expanding terrorist activities and radical groups merging with transnational organized crime are especially dangerous today. The situation in the Middle East and North Africa is especially worrying. Terrorists are trying this region as a foothold, where they recruit and train militants who can be used for destabilization in other countries,” the president stressed noting that “it is important to steadily increase the level of cooperation, use modern methods, develop common approaches to solving problems.”
The CIS is in a position where cooperation for border security is becoming one of its main priority to combat terrorists efficiently and to keep its border secure. By doing so, the CIS countries will have the ability to stop returning jihadis and prevent possible future attacks by those militants.