Moscow is closely watching the offensive, concerned about the security of countries in ex-Soviet Central Asia where it maintains military bases.
Moscow: Russian tanks deployed near the Afghan-Tajik border on Tuesday ahead of military exercises next month and Moscow announced more drills in neighboring Uzbekistan as regional tensions over the Taliban’s territorial gains in Afghanistan remained high.
Taliban fighters have made major advances as U.S. forces pull out after 20 years of war, a security headache for Moscow which fears refugees may be pushed into its Central Asian backyard and its southern defensive flank destabilized.
Tank crews from Russia’s military base in Tajikistan, its largest on foreign soil, completed a 200 km (124-mile) journey to a military range near the Afghan border, the TASS news agency cited Russia’s Central Military District as saying in a statement on Tuesday.
During the deployment, the T-72 tank crews practiced protecting convoys and repelling enemy fire, TASS reported.
“Upon arrival at the range, the crews started setting up their positions and providing cover for combat vehicles,” the statement said.
The joint drills, which involve Russian, Tajik, and Uzbek forces, are due to take place 20 km from the Afghan border in Tajikistan from Aug. 5-10, Russia’s armed forces said on Monday.
On Tuesday, Russia said joint exercises with Uzbek troops in southern Uzbekistan, also near the Afghan border, would run from July 30 to Aug. 10, involving around 1,500 troops and 200 vehicles, including aircraft.
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Russian tanks stationed in Tajikistan have moved to the Kharb-Maydon training ground near the Afghan border as part of joint military drills, the Central Military District reported on Tuesday.
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“As part of the upcoming joint tactical exercise, Russian tank crews from the 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan made a 200-kilometer [124-mile] march from the Lyaur training ground to the Kharb-Maydon training ground bordering Afghanistan,” the statement read.
During the march, the T-72 tank crews worked out combat protection for convoys of military vehicles, moving across conditionally contaminated sites in the area, and repelling attacks by an enemy’s sabotage and reconnaissance groups.
Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan will hold joint military drills from August 5-10 at the Kharb-Maydon training ground in the Tajik region of Khatlon bordering Afghanistan.
The Russian contingent during the exercises will include tanks, artillery, and special purpose squads of the 201st military base.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan has witnessed a spike in violence as the Taliban stepped up military activities after international troops began withdrawing from the country, as part of the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February 2020.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said that the Taliban have no desire to establish peace in the country.