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AFP – Aug 26, 2021

Russia said Thursday it has received new orders for arms and helicopters from Central Asian republics bordering Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

The orders come as countries in the ex-Soviet region, where Moscow holds military bases, have raised concerns over the militant group sweeping to power.

“We are already working on a number of orders from countries in the region for the supply of Russian helicopters, firearms and modern border protection systems,” Alexander Mikheev, the head of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, told the RIA Novosti news agency.

While Russia remains cautiously optimistic about the new leadership in Kabul, it has warned of militants entering neighboring countries as refugees.

Uzbekistan and Tajikistan earlier this month held joint military exercises with Russia close to their borders with Afghanistan.

Drills involving members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance led by Moscow, are also scheduled in Kyrgyzstan between Sept. 7 and 9.

The maneuvers will focus on “the destruction of illegal armed groups that have invaded the territory of a CSTO member state,” according to the press service of the alliance quoted by the Interfax news agency.

While the Taliban has said it does not pose a threat to Central Asian countries, the ex-Soviet republics in the region have previously been targeted by attacks attributed to allies of Afghan Islamists.

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Russia to reinforce its Tajikistan base with new tanks

Reuters – Sept 10, 2021

Russia is to equip its military base in Tajikistan, which neighbours Afghanistan, with 30 new tanks by the end of the year, the Interfax news agency reported.

Moscow has held military exercises in Tajikistan and expanded the hardware at the base, its biggest in a foreign country, since the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s lightning takeover.

Russia is worried about the potential for fallout in the wider region and the possibility of Islamist militants infiltrating Central Asia, which Moscow sees as its southern defensive buffer.

Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan stretches for 1,344 km (835 miles), and much of it is mountainous and hard to police.

Interfax quoted Khanif Beglov, tank unit commander of Russia’s Central Military District, saying 30 modern tanks would be stationed at the base by the end of the year to replace older combat vehicles.

Reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy; writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Kevin Liffey

 

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