RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi
August 11, 2021
Russia completed joint military exercises with troops from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on August 10 as the Taliban gain control of much of northern Afghanistan bordering Moscow’s Central Asian allies.
The war games began last week, involving about 2,500 Russian, Tajik, and Uzbek troops at a training ground in Tajikistan about 20 kilometers from the Afghan border.
“The exercise was conducted against the background of the aggravation of the situation and the threat of penetration of radical terrorist groups into the border countries of the Central Asian region,” Russia’s Central Military District commander, Colonel General Alexander Lapin, said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the drills involved tanks, armored personnel carriers, Su-25 attack jets, helicopters, and other weaponry in a simulated joint response to cross-border militant attacks.
Lapin said the combined forces for the first time used tactics gained by Russian forces fighting in Syria.
Russia, which has a military base in Tajikistan, has vowed defend the former Soviet Central Asian states against any security threat from Afghanistan.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are members of the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization.
The exercises followed smaller Russian-Uzbek drills held near Uzbekistan’s border with Afghanistan that concluded last week.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a separate event on August 10 that Russian forces will continue to conduct regular drills with its Central Asian allies near the Afghan border.
Central Asians states bordering Afghanistan are concerned about security threats emanating from Afghanistan and the potential for tens of thousands of refugees to pour over the border.
The Taliban has sought to reassure neighboring countries and Russia that it poses no threat as it gains control over much of Afghanistan’s territory and captures provincial cities from the government in Kabul as U.S.-led forces leave the country.
With reporting by TASS