Russia worries about Taliban reinforcements in Afghanistan: Moscow fears Islamist fighters could penetrate ex-Soviet territory of Central Asia. Now begins a multi-day military maneuver.
Dushanbe (AP) – In anticipation of the Taliban advance in Afghanistan, a military exercise begins today in the Central Asian border area with the participation of Russia.
A total of 2,500 soldiers and 500 military units will participate in the joint maneuver with the ex-Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan until August 10, the press service of the responsible Russian military district said.
Some 20 kilometers from the Afghan border, they have to train at a military site in the Tajik region of Chatlon, among other things, how they can prevent the penetration of fighters from Afghanistan.
Russia Concerned – Base Expansion
Russia, which has its largest foreign base in Tajikistan, is represented by up to 1,800 soldiers. Moscow looks with concern at the advance of the militant Islamist Taliban in connection with the withdrawal of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Recently, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced an expansion of its Central Asian bases.
During the joint maneuver one should practice, among other things, the defense against enemy tanks and drones. Defense from the air must also be trained. To this end, Russia moved several Su-25 fighter jets from Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan last week. A total of 17 BMP-2 armored personnel carriers had also arrived at the Russian base in Tajikistan.
Taliban conquer important areas
The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated dramatically in recent times. The US military mission officially ends on August 31. Since US and NATO forces began to withdraw in early May, the Taliban have launched several offensives, capturing rural areas, several border crossings and sections of major highways. This week they claimed a major attack in the capital Kabul for the first time in about a year and a half. The goal was a home for the incumbent defense minister.
In recent weeks, hundreds of Afghan security forces had fled to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in fear of the Taliban.