Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to be used in case of aggression from Afghanistan, says Russian defense minister
The Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will be used in protecting the borders of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) member nations in case of a direct aggression from Afghanistan, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry press center says.
"Our base in Tajikistan is powerful and strong enough. Of course, if necessary, it will be involved in protecting the CSTO borders in case of a direct aggression. The same relates to our base in Kyrgyzstan. Such a need may also arise there," the defense minister said at a meeting with the scientific community of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk in response to a question about measures being taken to ward off threats emanating from Afghanistan.
The CSTO member states cannot be on a par with Russia by their scope and defense potential and need assistance in the Afghan direction as this finally concerns Russia’s military security, Shoygu pointed out.
"We hope that the agreements that exist with the Taliban [radical militant group outlawed in Russia] will be fulfilled. However, considering the previous experience, it is hard to believe in this at once. It is necessary to tackle this issue so that all these threats do not confront our country. In this regard, it is necessary to support our CSTO partners in every possible way and help them," Russia’s defense chief stressed.
Moscow and Dushanbe are implementing a joint program of rearming the Tajik army but now a need has arisen to deal with strengthening the combat potential of the republic’s border guards, Shoygu said.
"The program is large and is intended almost until 2040. But now a substantiated need has emerged to deal not only with the army but also with the border," Russia’s defense chief stressed.
The Russian defense minister also said that Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had launched large-scale drills to practice tasks related to the situation in the region.
The Russian military base deployed in Tajikistan is subordinate to the Central Military District. It is Russia's largest non-naval military facility outside the country.
It was officially opened in Tajikistan in 2004 under a previous agreement, which was signed in 1993, and hosts Russia’s largest military contingent deployed abroad. A total of some 7,000 Russian troops are now stationed at two military facilities collectively known as the 201st military base - in Dushanbe and Bokhtar (formerly Qurghon Teppa), some 100 kilometers from Dushanbe.