Three provinces in southern and western Afghanistan are facing “critical” security situations as fighting intensifies between the Taliban and Afghan forces, the Afghan army has said. Meanwhile Al Jazeera reports that Russia will send an additional contingent of 800 troops to take part in military exercises at the Afghan border and use two times more hardware there than originally planned. While Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani is attending a joint meeting with members of the two houses of the parliament where he has blamed the ‘abrupt’ US withdrawal for deteriorating security.