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Russia steels Tajik frontline with new missiles to deter Taliban

Russia has steeled its defences in Tajikistan to deter terror infiltration from Taliban ruled Afghanistan

Russia has steeled its defences in Tajikistan to deter terror infiltration from Taliban ruled Afghanistan.

The Russians have deployed their latest Kornet anti-tank missile systems, to deter any intrusion by tanks and mechanised infantry from the Afghan side. The Kornet missiles have reinforced Russia’s 201st  military base inside Tajikistan, Tass news agency reported quoting the press office of Russia’s Central Military District.

"A batch of Kornet advanced anti-tank missile systems has arrived for the 201st Russian military base stationed in Tajikistan. The new systems have entered service with the Russian military formation’s artillery units," the statement says.

The report said that the 201st military base is Russia’s largest military facility outside its borders. The Russians have distributed their military assets in two Tajik cities–Dushanbe , Tajikistan’s capital, and Bokhtar.

Also Read: Why are Central Asian countries so spooked by the turmoil in Afghanistan?

The huge military base houses self-propelled artillery, that is artillery guns mounted on a tracked vehicle to provide heavy fire power on the move. The base also houses tanks and conventional artillery guns to strike enemy columns in depth. Besides, the base has air defence forces, to counter attacks by fighter jets as well as troops that can operate in a nuclear, biological and chemical warfare environment.

Under an agreement signed with Russia in  October 2012, Russia can operate the base for 30 years.

Analysts say that Russia views Central Asia as its backyard, where impoverished Tajikistan is hard-hit by an Islamic insurgency, with strong ties with the Taliban. It spearheads the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) covering most of Central Asia.

Tajikistan, sharing a 1300 kms border with Afghanistan, has been fighting  a long and protracted civil war with the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP) which wanted to overthrow the secular government and establish Sharia law. Many of its founders had served in Afghanistan during the days of Soviet occupation and had been radicalised there.

Also Read: India may need to discover Russia-led CSTO to protect its interests in Afghanistan

Aware of the threat radiating from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, even before the Taliban overran Kabul,  held its largest military readiness drill in its post-independence history. Around 100,000 servicemen and 130,000 reserve troops were mobilized to take part in an exercise dubbed Border-2021, as President Emomali Rahmon fretted about troubles to the south.