ASTANA (TCA) — Russia is reinforcing its military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with state-of-the-art weapons to stonewall shifting terrorist activity from Afghanistan to Central Asia, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on June 7 in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana at a meeting of the defense ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states, Russian TASS news agency reported.
“Russia’s Defense Ministry is taking measures to obstruct a shift of terrorist activity from Afghanistan to the Central Asian region. To this aim, we are increasing combat readiness of Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, equipping them with modern weapons and military equipment,” Shoigu said.
Shoigu said that the activities of the ISIL (Islamic State) are not confined to Syria and Iraq, and its units are now also active in Afghanistan, an SCO observer state. “The rise of ISIL militants in Afghanistan causes particular concern, since their number has reached 3,500, while the terror group’s strategy, aimed at creating a caliphate, poses a threat not only to Afghanistan’s security but also to the security of its neighboring countries,” the Russian defense minister said.
In March this year, anti-terrorist command and staff drills were held in Tajikistan, Shoigu said. “In September, similar exercises involving national military contingents of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member-states are due to be held,” he said.
Shoigu also said that the joint Dushanbe-Anti-Terror 2017 drills were recently conducted in Tajikistan. “In close proximity to the Tajik-Afghan border the troops trained to carry out fire attacks and destroy armed groups, conduct air intelligence and step up protection of crucial facilities,” he said.
The exercise, wrapped up in Tajikistan last weekend, had been coordinated by the CIS Anti-Terrorism Center. Russia was represented by about 2,000 servicemen with more than 300 pieces of military hardware, including 30 planes and helicopters.