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Russian tanks move close to Afghan border in preparation for drills.

Image Credit: EurAsian Times

On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that the Russian tanks stationed in the Russian base in Tajikistan have been deployed close to the border of Afghanistan in preparation for next month’s military drills along with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan forces. Russian tanks and thousands of Russian troops are now in Harb-Maidon training ground in preparation for the five-day military drill.

As part of the upcoming joint tactical exercise, Russian tank crews from the 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan have covered the distance of 200 kilometers from the Lyaur range to the Harb-Maidon training ground near the border with Afghanistan.

Russian Defense Ministry

The Russian Defense Ministry also announced a second military drill where around 1,500 Russian and Uzbekistani troops will participate. This joint drill will be conducted at the Termez training ground, also close to the Afghan border, and will involve units from the Central Military District and aviation. The Defense Ministry said that the purpose of the military exercise is to ensure the ‘territorial integrity of the Central Asian States’.

Both military drills come amid increased regional tensions over Taliban’s recent gains in Afghanistan. The Taliban have seized on the opportunity to gain as much territory as possible during a massive withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan. The withdrawal means that the Taliban now only needs to fight Afghan forces, making it a more difficult task to protect cities and villages for the government. US forces still conducted some airstrikes to hinder Taliban’s advance, but US forces effectiveness on the battlefield has decreased due to the withdrawal US troops, after two decades in the country.

Many countries including China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan view Taliban’s gains in Afghanistan as a problem in the region. Last May, the Chinese Embassy in Kabul urged its citizens to urgently leave the country. Russia also views the Taliban gains as a problem, as the conflict in Afghanistan might create an exodus of Afghani refugees to central Asian countries possibly destabilizing its southern flank. Tajikistan which will hold military drills with Russia and Uzbekistan as previously said, have also deployed 20,000 soldiers near the Afghanistan border. The country has already set up refugee camps weeks ago and already is being occupied by Afghan refugees.

More details to follow.

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