At the base near the town of Termez in southern Uzbekistan, 1,500 Russian and Uzbek soldiers were mobilized as part of the five-day operation, TASZSZ reports.
Moscow had previously announced that it would send a force of 1,800 soldiers to the Tajik border, instead of the 1,000 originally planned, to participate in other military exercises involving Russian, Uzbek and Tajik forces, which will start next Thursday. The Interfax news agency, citing Russian government sources, said a total of 2,500 soldiers took part in the operation.
The Russian army is participating in the military exercises with 420 military equipment, twice what was originally planned.
Tajikistan, which also borders Afghanistan, conducted military exercises on the Afghan border in late July, in which it deployed more than a thousand military vehicles, hundreds of cannons and minesweepers, and dozens of aircraft, including helicopters. However, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon has called for vigilance over the fighting south of the border in Afghanistan.
Also in July, hundreds of Afghan soldiers crossed the Tajik border when they withdrew from a Taliban attack. He brought them home to Dushan after the Kabul government organized special flights to bring them home.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Soigo, during his visit to Tajikistan on Wednesday, expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. He said that jihadist Islamic State fighters come to Afghanistan from Syria, Libya and several other countries.
The leader of the Russian ministry, who described the withdrawal of US forces as “hasty,” said Moscow would train Tajik soldiers at the Russian base in Tajikistan and related facilities.
We are paying close attention to enhancing the combat capabilities of our base and developing a plan to work together in the event of a rebel infiltration.
A Taliban spokesman fighting the Kabul government claimed in late July that the extremists had taken control of about 90 percent of Afghanistan’s borders with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran so far.
Although this announcement has not been confirmed by other sources, the Taliban have made significant progress since the start of the withdrawal of US forces, and Afghan government forces that have been deprived of vital US support have shown little resistance.
Cover image source: Donat Sorokin/TASS via Getty Images