Vladimir Putin speaking at CSTO meeting in Sochi, September 23, 2013. Photo: Reuters SOCHI, Russia – Russian President Vladimir Putin warned ex-Soviet allies on Monday that Islamist militancy fuelling the war in Syria could reach their countries, some of which have Muslim majorities. Russia, which has a large Muslim minority of its own and is fighting an Islamist insurgency, has accused the West of helping militants by seeking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal without paying enough attention to the potential consequences. Related: US Senator McCain attacks Putin in Russian website op-ed Putin told leaders of the six-nation Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that militants fighting Assad could eventually expand attacks beyond Syria and the Middle East. “The militant groups (in Syria) did not come out of nowhere, and they will not vanish into thin air,” Putin said. “The problem of terrorism spilling from one country to another is absolutely real and could directly affect the interests of any one of our countries,” he said, citing the deadly attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi as an example. “We are now witnessing a terrible tragedy unfold in Kenya. The militants came from another country, as far as we can judge, and are committing horrendous bloody crimes,” Putin said at a CSTO summit in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi. His words appeared to be a warning about violence spreading from both Syria and Afghanistan, which shares a long border with CSTO member Tajikistan in Central Asia. The security alliance also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus. Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan all have mostly Muslim populations. Russian officials have expressed concern that Russian-born militants fighting in Syria could return to Russia’s North Caucasus and join an insurgency that claims lives almost daily. They have also voiced worries that violence could spread into former Soviet Central Asia and Russia after the withdrawal of most Western troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year.

The top executives of both countries state train operators inaugurated a route today that links the North Korean port city of Rajin with the Russian border town of Khasan. Initially, the 54-kilometer (33-mile) line will transport Russian coal to markets in the Asia-Pacific region, OAO Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin said at the ceremony in Rajin. The second phase of the project will involve the construction of a container-handling facility and potentially an oil terminal at the North Korean site, he said. Our common objective is for this link and port to be a pilot scheme for the restoration of a single transport system in North and South Korea that would link the peninsula to countries that gravitate to this region, to Europe via Russia, Yakunin said. The CEO said he hopes the plan will help promote peace between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war following the conflict 1950-53 that divided the countries. The route is part of a larger project, dubbed the Iron Silk Road, that would connect Russia s Trans-Siberian Railway to South Korea via the North for an overland route cutting transportation costs to Europe. Success depends on improved ties between South Korea and its isolated Communist neighbor. Reunions Scrapped North Korea canceled plans today for reunions this week of families separated by the division of the peninsula, and accused South Korean leaders of throwing obstacles in the way of reconciliation. The North also put off talks on resuming tours by South Koreans to its Mount Geumgang resort after recent weeks of improved relations between the two sides. Kim Jong Uns regime accused the South of seeking confrontation, and threatened strong and decisive retaliation against any military provocation. The Khasan-Rajin rail link will carry 100,000 freight containers a year, the Norths official Korean Central News Agency reported in April 2012. The freight terminal at Rajin will be able to handle 4 million tons a year of coal, Yakunin said today, including shipments for OAO Mechel , Russias biggest supplier of the material for steelmakers. The new rail connection will promote the joint economic and transport development of the two countries and welfare of their peoples, North Korean Railways Minister Chon Kil-su said. To contact the reporter on this story: Ekaterina Shatalova in Rajin, North Korea , via eshatalova@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net More News:

Russia can afford to keep Putin’s social promises

Life expectancy for men, still among the lowest in Europe at 64, has increased by five years since 2003. The birth rate has also picked up, from 1.3 children per woman in 2003 to 1.69 today. Russia’s population, which has fallen by 5 million since 1991, has been rising since 2009. The demographic turnaround partly reflects policy measures, such as maternity grants, designed to encourage more births. Russia also plans to address other acute problems, such as low pay for public servants. “The absolute priority is the level of pay for teachers and doctors,” said Golodets. Before his return to the Kremlin last year, Putin promised to double salaries for teachers and doctors by 2018, to increase maternity benefits and to open more kindergartens. Financing for these priority programmes is being increased, notwithstanding a recent economy drive forced by slowing economic growth and tight government finances. “I’m satisfied, because all the key obligations (spending)are fulfilled in their entirety,” said Golodets, after the cabinet last week signed off on savings in its three-year fiscal plan. LABOUR SHORTAGE For many years, Russia’s deep-seated demographic problems appeared to impinge little on its once fast-growing economy. But with a slowdown coinciding with record low unemployment, the shrinking labour force has emerged as a pressing economic and social problem. “We are now suffering from a severe labour shortage,” Golodets said. Due to a record low birth rate at the start of the 1990s, when the Soviet Union’s collapsed, the number of new entrants to the workforce is at a two-decade low. To help address the labour shortages, Russia has earmarked 45 billion roubles ($1.4 billion) over three years to encourage employers to take on workers in depressed regions, young people and the disabled, including funds for training, she said.

Russia suicide blast kills 2 police officers, injures 12 other eople

23, 2013 at 8:24 AM KHUCHNI, Russia, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Two police officers were killed and other 12 people were injured Monday by a suicide bomb near a police station in Russia’s Dagestan republic, officials said. The bomber was inside a parked car outside a police headquarters building in Khuchni in the North Caucasus republic, a statement from the Interior Ministry said. Police said two of the injured were in critical condition. Nine police vehicles were damaded in the blast, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. Attacks on security forces and police are a regular occurrence in the troubled North Caucasus region, RIA Novosti reported. The violence is fueled by ethnic, religious and political rivalries, corruption and an Islamic insurgency, the news service said. 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.