MOSCOW- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday the people of Afghanistan can count on Moscow's support if the situation intheir country gets complicated following the withdrawal of the NATO-ledcoalition force.

"We must note that the situation, as it is developing in Afghanistan, certainly attracts attention around the world, not least in the CSTO

(Collective Security Treaty Organization) zone," Putin was quoted by Tassnews agency as telling a meeting of CSTO Parliamentary Assembly members, with an Afghan delegation in attendance.

"We realize that challenges will arise following the international contingent's withdrawal," he said, referring to the withdrawal of the

NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) by the end of 2014.

The president hoped the Afghan people would stabilize their country soon,but added it would be not easy to achieve that goal.

"If necessary, we are ready to lend our Afghan friends a shoulder to lean onin order to ensure the situation in the country remains stable and haspositive development prospects," Putin said.

He noted that the CSTO had rich experience in jointly combating terrorismand drug trafficking, the main threats originated from Afghanistan.

Russia currently chairs the CSTO, which also comprises Armenia, Belarus,Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with Afghanistan and Serbia holdingobserver status in the group.

The ISAF is set to end their combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of

2014, entrusting the Afghan national security forces with the responsibilityto ensure their own country's future peace and stability.