Minister says Russia to continue military drills after Taliban seize entire length of border with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan
MOSCOW (AA) – The Taliban have taken control of the entire length of Afghanistan’s border with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the Russian defense minister said, urging the countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to be prepared against the threat of drug smugglers and terrorists infiltrating Russia through the Central Asian states.
Sergey Shoygu, speaking at a forum titled “Territory of Senses” in Moscow on Tuesday, said the Taliban have captured Kunduz province, which is a large and important center in Afghanistan.
The minister said the CSTO countries should be prepared to deal with the threat of drug smugglers and terrorists in Afghanistan infiltrating Russia through Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Underlining that Russian, Tajik, and Uzbek armies conducted joint drills near the Afghan border, Shoygu said Moscow will continue to hold such exercises with its Central Asian allies in the region on a regular basis.
The joint drills conducted by troops from the three countries on Tuesday aimed at responding to the aggravated situation in the region and repel terrorist threats from neighboring Afghanistan.
In a statement on Thursday, Shoygu had said Russia will use its military bases in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan in case of direct aggression from Afghanistan.
Last week, the country’s Chief of General Staff said Russia increased arms deliveries to Central Asian countries in response to such a threat.
Russia continues to seek substantive, peaceful negotiations with all parties in Afghanistan. It will uphold this stance at a meeting of the Troika plus (China, Russia, the US, and Pakistan), scheduled for Aug. 11 in Doha, Deputy Spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexandr Bikantov said last week separately.
On Tuesday, the Taliban entered Farah in western Afghanistan, making it the ninth provincial center to be partly or fully captured by the insurgents.
In a major push to repel advancing Taliban from urban centers, Afghan forces claimed that it killed 361 insurgents in air and ground offensives in the past 24 hours. The Afghan Defense Ministry said the operations were conducted in the Nangarhar, Kunar, Logar, Paktia, Paktika, Maidan Wardak, Kandahar, Sar-e Pol, Helmand, Kunduz and Baghlan provinces.
After taking control of nearly 200 rural districts, the Taliban launched assaults on major cities, marching on Herat, Kandahar, Taluqan, and Lashkargah, causing panic and concern among millions of civilians.