Russia has activated its military base in Tajikistan against advancing Taliban forces on its southern border, sending a loud and clear message that it would zealously guard its Central Asian backyard against forces of Islamic extremism.
The drills are being held under the framework of the CSTO, a Moscow led collective security alliance geared to combat external aggression. It also, as a group, fights terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, and transnational crime.
Russian mobilised its tanks near the Afghan-Tajik border on Tuesday. According to the Russian defence ministry, Moscow will stage military drills from August 5 to 10 with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan at the Harb-Maidon training ground near the border with Afghanistan where the Taliban has been fighting a fierce battle with the Afghan troops.
"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 kilometres from the Lyaur range to the Harb-Maidon training ground near the border with Afghanistan,” The Moscow Times said quoting the statement of the ministry.
During the exercise, 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.
On the diplomatic side, Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov had earlier warned the Taliban that Moscow was “closely monitoring the situation [in Afghanistan]” and would reject and oppose any interference by the group in Central Asia. He added: “ But when the Taliban see that any attempt to undermine the security of our allies in Central Asia will be fraught with great losses for them, they will start behaving.”
Moscow has publicly engaged with the Taliban, seeking and receiving assurances that the group will not allow Afghanistan to become a security problem for Russia and Central Asia.