Highlights of Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov speech at the Xiangshan defense forum in Beijing.
The Islamic State radical group is planning to expand its activities to Europe, Russia and Central and Southeast Asia, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said, warning that Afghanistan could be used by ISIL militants to get to northern China and CIS states.
“Recently, the activity of terrorist groups affiliated with the Islamic State increased substantially on the Afghan territory. Afghanistan could be used by the group for further expansion to CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] countries in Central Asia and in the direction of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in [northwest] China,” Antonov said at the Xiangshan Forum on defense, which is being held in Beijing on October 16-17.
The deputy defense minister added that ISIL radicals have stable financial resources and reliable equipment and could expand their activities to Europe.
Antonov stressed that the international community should not ignore the fact that certain countries are providing assistance to terrorist groups in hopes of achieving their national objectives.
“Terrorists allow others to control them until the moment they become strong, and then they get out of control,” Antonov said, pointing to Syria, where ISIL radicals were once ‘generously paid by ‘fighters for democracy’.”
Radical Activity Spikes in Afghanistan, 50,000 Militants Active
Islamic State militants and other radical groups are on the rise in Afghanistan, which might not be able to deal with the threat on its own, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said adding that Russia will continue its assistance to Kabul.
“There are currently up to 50,000 militants in the country [Afghanistan], organized into over 4,000 different units and groups. Russia intends to continue its assistance to the Afghan government on the bilateral level as well as together with SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization] and CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization] partners,” Antonov said.
According to CSTO data, there are about 2,000-3,000 ISIL militants in Afghanistan.
Antonov stressed that ISIL activity in the country has recently increased and Kabul’s ability to deal with the threat independently remains questionable.
US Not Ready to Accept Russian Offer For More Cooperation on Syria
Russia is offering the United States broader cooperation on Syria, where both countries are conducting airstrikes against Islamic State targets, but Washington is not yet ready for it, Anatoly Antonov also said.
“We are holding talks with our American partners on concluding an agreement on ensuring the safety of flights over Syria. But that’s not enough. We are offering far broader cooperation that Washington is not ready for yet,” Antonov said.
The deputy defense minister stressed that Russia is interested in cooperating on the Syrian issue with all countries concerned and has already established contacts with Turkey, Israel, at the same time reinforcing its ties with the Persian Gulf states.