Russia-led bloc to hold military drills on Afghanistan border

Moscow aims to cement its presence after U.S. retreat

Published - September 17, 2021 04:52 am IST - Dushanbe

A Russia-led security bloc said on Thursday that it planned to hold large military drills in Tajikistan next month, amid what it described as a deteriorating situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Moscow has moved to cement its position as a key player in the region after the United States’ hasty retreat from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

The general secretary of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) Stanislav Zas said the group would hold several “largescale exercises” in the ex-Soviet state.

‘Largest exercise’

Tajikistan is the only country out of the six-member bloc led by Russia that shares a border with Afghanistan.

The series of drills will include “our largest exercise this year,” Mr. Zas said.

The group has taken “collective measures” to ensure Tajikistan’s security in case of an “aggravation” on its border with Afghanistan, he added.

The CSTO said in a joint statement that it was alarmed by the deterioration of security in Afghanistan.

Mr. Zas announced the drills after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov put the Taliban on notice on Wednesday, noting that Moscow was monitoring the group’s fulfilment of promises to prevent radical groups from launching attacks on Afghanistan’s neighbours.

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