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17 Oct, 2022 12:50

Russian-led alliance starts military drills 

A joint exercise in Tajikistan is aimed at bolstering security against potential militant incursions from Afghanistan
Russian-led alliance starts military drills 

Military maneuvers of a rapid response force operated by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) began in Tajikistan on Monday. The Rubezh-2022 drills are aimed at bolstering readiness in case of cross-border incursions by militia forces, officials say.

The Rapid Response Force for the Central Asian Region of the CSTO will be training for swift deployment and action in a mountainous area of the host nation, the commander of the group’s joint military staff said. The mission, as described by Russian Col. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov, includes defeating a simulated attack by militias and securing a breached national border.

Lt. Gen. Emomali Soborzoda, who heads the General Staff of Tajikistan, noted that Dushanbe has been concerned by “negative trends” in terms of security for all members of the CSTO. His country perceives particular risks from Afghanistan, which it borders in the south, he added.

The exercise involves around 1,000 troops and about 300 military vehicles, including warplanes, helicopters, and drones, according to the organization’s statement. Participating troops started arriving in Tajikistan last week and are scheduled to train until Friday.

The six-strong collective defense organization recently experienced some bumps in its operations. In September, member states Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan engaged in border clashes, with at least one soldier reported killed. The neighbors have a long history of sporadic flare-ups along sections of their border, which measures hundreds of kilometers, and which they are yet to formally ratify.

A separate surge in violence last month involved another CSTO member, Armenia, which engaged in hostilities with regional rival Azerbaijan. Dozens were reported dead over several days of artillery shelling and cross-border raids on both sides. The Armenian leadership asked the CSTO to send troops under the mutual defense provisions. The organization urged for diplomacy and deployed monitors to Armenia in response. 

The CSTO consists of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. One of the biggest missions that the bloc has conducted was the deployment of troops to Kazakhstan amid mass rioting in the country in January.