Russia and Tajikistan launch joint military drills near Afghan border

Russia and Tajikistan militaries kicked off joint drills near the border with Afghanistan that will last through April 7, Russia’s TASS news agency reported Monday.

The drills are taking place at the Kharb-Maidon training ground in Tajikistan – 20 kilometers from the border with Afghanistan.

“During the practical stages, the military contingents from Russia and Tajikistan will practice preparing and carrying out a joint operation on mountainous terrain to eliminate outlawed armed gangs intruding into the territory of an allied state and also exercising command and control of joint forces in blocking and destroying an illegal armed formation,” Russia’s Central Military District said in a statement.

The Russian military contingent participating in the drills largely consists of units from the 201st military base numbering over 300 personnel: motor rifle, armored, artillery, radiation, chemical and biological protection troops and mobile electronic warfare groups of the Central Military District, its press office specified.

Under an agreement signed in October 2012, Russia’s military base in Tajikistan will remain until 2042.

Russia is worried about the possibility of militants infiltrating the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Moscow views as its defensive buffer.

Officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) however have repeatedly downplayed concerns about threats emanating from the country.