MOSCOW, July 22 (EFE) – More than 230,000 men, including 130,000 reservists, are taking part in the “Border 2021” military exercises that begin today in Tajikistan, officials in Central Asia bordering Afghanistan said.
Defense Minister Sheryl Mirzo said all sections of the armed forces and Tajik security forces had been placed on a war alert, and the Russian company Interfax reported that the country’s president, Emomal Rajman, had been informed of the progress of the exercises.
“1,023 armored vehicles, 3,167 trucks and other vehicles, 447 artillery and motor, and 45 aircraft are participating in the exercises,” Mirsey said.
Today’s maneuvers will take place in the Tajik Zarf-Maiden polygon near the Afghan border from August 5 to 10, ahead of Russian-Tajik-Uzbek military exercises.
Russia has expressed grave concern over the Taliban’s advances in Afghanistan against the Kabul government since the withdrawal of US and NATO troops.
The Taliban attack has forced more than 1,500 Afghan soldiers to seek refuge with Tajikistan, causing alarms in neighboring countries and the alarm of a Russian-led post-Soviet coalition security agreement (OTCS).
The CSTO, which includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, has sent a task force to the region to assess the situation and has expressed a desire to send troops if the situation worsens.
However, Russia has made it clear that it will not accept any action unless events in Afghanistan are limited to its own territory, except to stress the need to initiate a political process that supports the Afghans.
What Moscow is worried about now is not a Taliban military expansion to neighboring countries, but the exodus of refugees, in which jihadists could leak, resulting in an increase in the terrorist threat to the region. EFE
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