Russian, Tajik troops hold joint drills near Afghan border

Oct 21, 2021, 10:51 PM | Updated: Oct 22, 2021, 1:07 pm
In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Soldiers aim their weapon...

In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Soldiers aim their weapons during joint war games conducted by Russian and Tajik troops at the Momirak firing range about 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) north of the Afghan border, Tajikistan, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

MOMIRAK FIRING RANGE, Tajikistan (AP) — Russian and Tajik troops conducted joint drills Friday near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan, as part of efforts to prepare for possible security threats issuing from Afghanistan.

The exercises at the Momirak firing range about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the Afghan border involved armored vehicles and helicopter gunships. It was part of weeklong war games that brought together about 5,000 troops and over 700 armored vehicles from Russia, Tajikistan and several other ex-Soviet nations, which are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Moscow-dominated security pact.

Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Mirzo said the drills were decided amid the “catastrophic changes after the withdrawal of the international coalition” from Afghanistan.

“Terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan … have obtained many modern weapons, significantly improved their positions and using the current situation create conditions for its transformation into a foothold for further destructive actions in the region,” Mirzo added.

Russian officials said they trusted the Taliban’s pledge that they wouldn’t threaten neighboring countries, but noted that the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and other militants in northern Afghanistan could try to destabilize the neighboring ex-Soviet Central Asian nations. They also said drug trafficking from Afghanistan will continue to present a challenge.

Moscow has vowed to provide military assistance to its ex-Soviet allies in Central Asia to help counter possible threats and held a series of joint drills in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which neighbor Afghanistan.

Russia has a military base in Tajikistan, its largest military outpost in the former Soviet Union. It also maintains an air base in Kyrgyzstan, and jets based there took part in this week’s war games.

Lt. Gen. Yevgeniy Poplavsky, deputy commander of the Russian armed forces’ Central Military District who oversaw the drills, described them as part of training to counter possible security challenges.

The fighting between the Taliban and the Islamic State in northern Afghanistan raised fears of IS fighters and other militants flowing into Central Asian nations.

“(The Taliban) will try to push all pro-ISIS military groups out its territory or to destroy them and to become the only one (in power),” Poplavsky said. “That’s why we don’t exclude the option that they will push them to Tajikistan’s territory.”

The Soviet Union fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with its troops withdrawing in 1989. In recent years, Russia has made a strong diplomatic comeback as an influential power broker on Afghanistan, hosting several rounds of talks with various Afghan factions.

Russia had worked for years to establish contacts with the Taliban, even though it designated the group a terror organization in 2003 and never took it off the list, Unlike many other countries, it hasn’t evacuated its embassy in Kabul after they took over the Afghan capital in August.

On Wednesday, Russia hosted another round of talks that involved the Taliban along with senior diplomats from China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the former Soviet nations in Central Asia.

Speaking during a panel with international foreign policy experts on Thursday, Russian President Vladmir Putin said that the international community “is getting close” to officially recognizing the Taliban as the new rulers of Afghanistan, saying the decision must be made by the United Nations. He emphasized the need for the Taliban to recognize the interests of all Afghan ethnic groups and respect human rights, but noted its efforts to combat the Islamic State group and other militants.


Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

UN agency for Palestinian refugees faces funding crisis

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday it was unable to pay its 28,000 employees on time this month because of a major funding crisis, warning of potential cuts in vital services to millions of people amid a global pandemic. UNRWA runs schools, clinics and food distribution […]
1 day ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a video call of the VTB Capital "Russia Calling!" Investme...
Associated Press

Putin warns West: Moscow has ‘red line’ about Ukraine, NATO

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday sternly warned NATO against deploying its troops and weapons to Ukraine, saying it represents a red line for Russia and would trigger a strong response. Commenting on Western concerns about Russia’s alleged intention to invade Ukraine, he said that Moscow is equally worried about NATO drills […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Man accused of using relief funds on Lamborghini gets prison

HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston man has been sentenced to more than nine years in prison after he was accused of using federal COVID-19 relief funding on a Lamborghini, a Rolex watch and trips to strip clubs, federal prosecutors said. Lee Price III, 30, was sentenced Monday to 110 months in prison. Price pleaded guilty […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Mercedes, Stellantis to work with US firm on new batteries

BERLIN (AP) — Automakers Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis announced agreements with U.S. company Factorial Energy on Tuesday to help develop solid-state battery technology that they hope could make electric cars more attractive to a mass market. Mercedes-Benz, part of Daimler AG, said it is joining forces with Factorial, based in Woburn, Massachussetts, to jointly develop batteries […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

EU set to unveil massive worldwide infrastructure plan

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Wednesday is set to unveil a multibillion-euro plan aimed at bolstering the 27-nation bloc’s worldwide infrastructure and influence. The program is expected to mobilize up to 300 billion euros ($341 billion) in public and private funds by 2027. Although the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, does not […]
1 day ago
FILE - This undated file image provided by Merck & Co. shows their new antiviral medication molnupi...
Associated Press

Final US hurdle for Merck’s COVID-19 pill: FDA panel review

WASHINGTON (AP) — An experimental COVID-19 drug that could soon become the first U.S.-authorized pill to treat the coronavirus faces one final hurdle Tuesday: A panel of government experts will scrutinize data on the medication from drugmaker Merck. The Food and Drug Administration is asking its outside experts whether the agency should authorize the pill, […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Russian, Tajik troops hold joint drills near Afghan border