Russia is "not particularly allergic" to the temporary presence of US troops in the Central Asian region, said the Russian president in an interview with the Chinese newspaper Renmin Ribao.
"By lending its support to the world community and its effort to eliminate the hotbed of terrorism on the territory of Afghanistan, Russia meant to protect its own security interests, as well as the interests of its partners in the Commonwealth of Independent States, with whom it had consulted beforehand," stressed Vladimir Putin.
The president remarked that Moscow wasn't "particularly allergic to the temporary presence of extraregional forces in the region," and yet "Russia is fully aware that it is still a long way to go until Central Asia achieves peace and tranquillity, and no one can relieve" Russia and other members of the Collective Security Treaty and of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization "of their responsibility for security in a region as important" as Central Asia.
According to Putin, "stability in Central Asia still depends directly on the situation in Afghanistan." The president reminded the newspaper that Russia and other members of the CST -- namely, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- had been supporting Afghanistan's legal authorities, the ones that fought the Taliban regime.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969