Russia will bolster Central Asian ally Tajikistan’s military with weapons, equipment and training amid a “deteriorating” situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, Moscow’s defence minister said Wednesday on a visit to the country.
Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will hold joint military drills next week near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan, where the Taliban has made huge military gains and claims to control 90% of the country’s borders.
Speaking in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe where he met his counterpart Sherali Mirzo, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow had organised additional supplies of weaponry and equipment to bolster Tajikistan’s Army.
“We continue to train qualified Tajik military personnel. We prepare them both at our military universities and at the 201st Russian military base” Mr. Shoigu said, referring to Moscow’s base in the country.
Mr. Shoigu, who blamed the worsening security situation on the “hasty” withdrawal of U.S. forces, said Moscow was ready to offer “any necessary help to (our) Tajikistan friends”.
Afghanistan’s government in Kabul has dismissed as a lie the Taliban’s claim of near total border control.
But the militants last month seized control of Afghanistan’s main Shir Khan Bandar border crossing with Tajikistan.
Last week, Tajikistan checked the combat readiness of its armed forces in the biggest such exercise in the country’s history.
Some 2,30,000 members of the Central Asian’s security forces took part in the exercise and Dushanbe also relocated 20,000 troops to strengthen its force on the border with Afghanistan.
A Tajik official said Tajikistan was ready to accept 1,00,000 refugees from Afghanistan.
However, Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin said Tajikistan was “not yet ready to name the exact number of refugees we can accept”, citing the need for anti-coronavirus measures as a potential complication.