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Tajikistan chosen as ground for CSTO drills due to situation in Afghanistan - official


May 18, 17:15 UTC+3

The aim of the post-Soviet military bloc drills is countering the possible invasion of terrorist groups from Afghanistan

MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. The choice of Tajikistan as grounds for holding snap drills of Collective Rapid Reaction Force (CRRF) of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is due to deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, CSTO Deputy Secretary General Valery Semerikov told journalists on Monday.

'The decision was not accidental to transfer forces and means in this direction, hold a number of events to drill the situation where we will have to solve problems in this direction with the use of our CRRF,' Semerikov said.

The situation in Afghanistan arouses serious concerns, he noted. A target program on strengthening the border is being implemented in Afghanistan, Semerikov added.

Tajikistan's Defense Ministry Faridun Makhmadaliev said earlier today that the CSTO rapid reaction force has completed the first stage of anti-terrorism drills after arriving in the area of Tajik-Afghan border. 'The drills covered the considerable part of the 'Panj frontier' - from Shaartuz, in the vicinity of which one of the largest military training grounds Kharbmaidan is located, to Tajik Badashkhan,' Makhmadaliev noted. The total length of the Tajik-Afghan border is 1,344 kilometers, with the Panj river forming much of the border between the two countries. 'We have already defined the defense line which will be used in case of an attack and where a threat may come from,' the spokesman added.

'The results of the snap check of Rapid Reaction Force with the participation of up to 2,500 servicemen, aviation and heavy armored vehicles, which started on May 12, the coordination in the area of drills will be considered by the maneuvers' commanders on May 19 on the military training ground,' Makhmadaliev said. 'The aim of the drills was put unambiguously clear - countering the possible invasion of terrorist groups from Afghanistan,' he added.

The drills of CRRF units are taking place against the backdrop of rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, in close proximity to the border with Tajikistan, where Afghan government forces continue to fight Taliban militants. According to Tajik special services, Taliban already controls most part of Afghanistan's Badakhshan Province, and in some places has come close to the 'Panj frontier.'

CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha told a press conference in Dushanbe that 'CRRF can reach the region of the Tajik-Afghan border in 24 hours and ensure security of southern frontiers of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States].'

Contingents from Russia, Tajikistan, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are taking part in the CSTO CRRF drills.


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