DUSHANBE (TCA) — Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has discussed military cooperation between Russia and Tajikistan with the Central Asian country’s President, Emomali Rahmon, and its defense minister, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported.
The one-hour talks between Shoigu and Rahmon were held behind closed doors in the Nations’ Palace in Dushanbe on May 28.
Rahmon’s office said that he spoke of a “strategic partnership” and called the development of Russian-Tajik military cooperation “a priority of Tajikistan’s foreign policy.”
Shoigu then held talks with Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Mirzo, during which he said that Tajik military forces will take part in the Tsentr (Center) military maneuvers in Russia and in the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) military exercises in Tajikistan this year.
After the talks, Shoigu inspected the Russian military base in Dushanbe.
About 7,000 troops from Russia’s 201st Motor Rifle Division are stationed at three facilities that are considered part of the Russian base in Tajikistan.
In October 2012, Moscow and Dushanbe signed a lease agreement under which the military base will be deployed in Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, until 2042.
Visiting Tajikistan a week ago, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Aleksandr Bortnikov said that militants from the extremist group Islamic State (IS) have been amassing in northern Afghanistan.
Moscow has been expressing concern about an IS spillover into Central Asia for years.
Security experts have said that Russia has exaggerated the number of militants in order to justify its outreach to the Afghan Taliban and to suggest to Central Asian governments that they need support from Russia to defend themselves.