Forces from Uzbekistan will stage major drills later this month on their country’s border with troubled Afghanistan, with Russia sending a contingent of peacekeepers to assist and accompany troops from the Central Asian nation.
The Russian Central Military Command told journalists on Tuesday that its soldiers would be joining colleagues from Uzbekistan for military exercises on the frontier, starting on July 30 and running until August 10. Around 200 Russian units of military hardware, including air support, as well as peacekeeping personnel, will take part in the drills, designed to ensure the country’s territorial integrity.
“The practical actions of the exercise will take place at the Termez training ground in the area bordering Afghanistan,” military chiefs said. In recent weeks, the security situation in the neighboring nation has rapidly deteriorated, with the Taliban – considered a terrorist group and prohibited in Russia – gaining ground in the wake of American troops’ planned withdrawal. US President Joe Biden has ordered all of his country’s forces out of Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks later this year.
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The news comes as Russia plans separate military exercises with troops in nearby Tajikistan in early August. According to one of Moscow’s top generals, Alexander Lapin, the commander of the country’s Central Military District, forces will rehearse pushing back “detachments of illegal armed formations that invade the territory.”
A number of groups of Afghan soldiers have sought refuge across the border in mountainous Tajikistan in recent weeks, fleeing fierce Taliban fighting. Tajikistan is a member of the Moscow-headquartered Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a mutual defense pact that succeeds the USSR’s Red Army and binds six former Soviet Republics into protecting each other’s borders. Uzbekistan was previously a CSTO ally, but it withdrew from the group in 2012.
General Colonel Anatoly Sidorov, the CSTO’s chief of the joint chiefs of staff, told RT earlier this month that the Taliban would not be allowed to stage incursions into Tajikistan or destabilize the fragile region, and that forces from member states were capable of guarding their frontiers.
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