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War games erupt across Asia to counter Taliban threat

A shot of a self-propelled howitzer during the Zapad-2021 exercise held at the Mulino training ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region of Russia (Image courtesy: Twitter/@MOD_Russia)

Rattled by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, several neighbouring countries have joined hands to kickstart joint anti-terrorism military exercises to maintain regional stability and also check the readiness of their forces.

While the Peace Mission-2021 multilateral exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member countries is being held at the Donguz training ground in the Orenburg region of South West Russia, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) member states have also announced a series of large-scale exercises on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border.

Meanwhile, in the faraway suburbs of Ulanbaatar, the annual joint Russian-Mongolian military exercise Selenga-2021 kicked off at the Doityn Am training ground today.  

The CSTO members Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan announced last week that Exercise Search-2021, Echelon-2021, Interaction-2021 and Cobalt-2021 will be held according to a single plan – to jointly counter the security threats emanating from the territory of Afghanistan.

Moscow announced today that the first military echelon with military equipment and servicemen of the motorized rifle unit of the Eastern Military District stationed in the Republic of Buryatia crossed the state border of Russia and Mongolia at the railway checkpoint of the village of Naushki to participate in Selenga-2021.

"The Selenga exercise is aimed at combating international terrorism. During the exercise, the military personnel of the two countries, using various tactical techniques of modern combat, eliminate mock illegal armed formations," said the country's defence ministry.

In total, around 1500 servicemen from Russia and the armed forces of Mongolia will take part in the event which will continue till October 5.

In Orenburg, the joint military anti-terrorist command and staff exercise between the SCO member states will continue till September 25. It is being attended by representatives of eight countries – India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Military Exercise

Indian contingent at the sixth edition of the SCO Exercise Peaceful Mission 2021 which started at Orenburg in Russia from Monday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@ADGPI)

Just around the same time, the crews of the missile formation of the tank army of Russia's Western Military District, equipped with Iskander operational and tactical missile systems, are returning to their permanent deployment point after successful missile launches during the joint strategic Russian-Belarusian exercise Zapad-2021.

Besides units and divisions of Russia's Western Military District, military contingents of Armenia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia, as well as a representative of the military delegation of Sri Lanka, had attended Zapad-2021 exercise held at the Mulino training ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region.

"The Zapad-2021 exercise showed that we can create powerful interspecific groups in a short time, plan military operations in any direction, stop any aggression, bring any enemy to reason and sober up with a decisive blow," said Lieutenant General Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, Russia's Deputy Defence Minister.

About 200 thousand people, more than 80 planes and helicopters, up to 760 units of military equipment, including more than 290 tanks, more than 240 guns, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars, up to 15 ships were involved in Zapad-2021.

The recently-held, ongoing and future military exercises makes it amply clear that this time around, leaders of Asia agree that the current security situation in Afghanistan seriously undermines security and stability in the region and the world.

"I would like to emphasise once again that the escalation of violence and conflict in Afghanistan in the 1990s could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe and worsen the lives of its people, as well as to the fact that this country remains a centre of international terrorism," said Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon while addressing media with Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Raisi in Dushanbe last week.

There is certainly a lot more to come in the coming days. 

Also Read: In faraway Russia, Indian soldiers train with Chinese forces for the sake of regional peace