Putin urges Kyrgyz, Tajik leaders to avoid escalation
During talks with the presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan today, Russian President Vladimir Putin calls for calm and to avoid further escalation of tensions between the two nations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the Tajikistani President and his Kyrgyzstani counterpart on Sunday to avoid further escalation following two days of clashes along their border.
The Russian President spoke separately with Sadyr Japarov of Kyrgyzstan and Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan about the situation on their shared border, according to the Kremlin.
"Vladimir Putin urged the sides to prevent further escalation and make efforts to promptly normalize the situation by peaceful political and diplomatic means alone," the statement read.
Putin also "confirmed Russia’s readiness to provide necessary assistance to ensure stability in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border area," the Kremlin added.
According to Kyrgyzstan’s Health Ministry on Sunday, the death toll resulting from the border clashes with Tajikistan has reached 36, stating, "As of 10:00 a.m. (07:00 Moscow time), health agencies in the Batken Region received 12 more bodies, according to updated data received from the Batken Region. The total number of deaths as a result of the armed conflict in the Batken Region is 36."
In a previous statement, Kyrgyz emergency authorities disclosed that 37 people were killed on the border with Tajikistan and 129 people were also reported to be injured. The Ministry revealed that the region so far received 177 tonnes of humanitarian aid and is expecting another 160 tonnes to arrive from Bishkek.
The Tajik-Kyrgyz border witnessed an escalation of tensions on September 14 after Bishkek claimed that the Tajik border guards crossed the Bulak-Bashy border area of Kyrgyzstan’s Batken District on Wednesday and "took up combat positions."
Upon Kyrgyz troops demanding them to leave the area, Tajik guards opened fire and armed clashes followed in the Kak-Sai and Pasky-Aryk areas of Batken, after which Kyrgyz border guards returned fire resulting in clashes. The Kyrgyz service added that Tajik forces were using tanks, armored personnel carriers, and mortars. In response, Tajikistan accused Kyrgyzstan forces of using "heavy weaponry" to shell one of its outposts and seven villages.
Another ceasefire was announced later after the first ceasefire fell through. However, the Kyrgyz border guard service announced the shelling of the Osh Region for the first time, since all incidents earlier had been reported from a border area in the Batken Region. Overall, Kyrgyz authorities evacuated over 136,000 citizens since the start of the clashes, after which a state of emergency was declared.
Both countries host Russian military bases and have cordial and close ties with Moscow. The EU and the US have recently sought to meddle in Russia's foreign allies' affairs with the most recent offer the US has made by promising support for Armenia and Azerbaijan in solving their conflict. The intent in doing so is to downplay Russia's influence over the Caucasus and its allies.