MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday Russia must strengthen its defenses in the south and work with Central Asian allies to protect itself against the threat of extremist violence emerging from Afghanistan.
Putin told a meeting of his Security Council that U.S. and NATO-led forces "have not yet achieved a breakthrough in the fight against terrorist and radical groups" in Afghanistan and that these groups have become more active recently.
"We need to strengthen the security system in the strategic southern area, including its military component," Putin said, adding Russia must work with fellow members of two regional security alliances, one of which includes China.
Russia, which supported the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, has expressed concern that threats to its security could increase following the planned withdrawal of most foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Putin also said international forces have done far too little to fight drug production in Afghanistan and have ignored Russian proposals, apparently referring to Moscow's calls for more efforts to eradicate crops of poppies used to make heroin.
Putin said Russia, which is separated geographically from Afghanistan by the ex-Soviet states of Central Asia, should step up migration controls on its southern border, but gave few details about how security should be strengthened.
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