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PublishDate: Monday, October 18, 2021 13:22

Russia-led bloc holds large-scale drills near Tajik-Afghan border

A Russia-led post-Soviet security bloc started its largest military drills near the Tajik-Afghan border in years on Monday amid cross-border tensions ahead of talks between Afghanistan’s new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leaders and major regional powers.

Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_Unlike Afghanistan’s other northern neighbours who have de facto acknowledged the and started building working relationships with Kabul, has refused to recognise the IEA and there are reports of troop build-ups on both sides of the border.

According to the report the exercise carried out by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation () will involve over 5,000 servicemen, more than half of them Russian soldiers, Russia and Tajikistan’s defence ministries said.

The six-day drills follow a series of smaller-scale exercises held in the vicinity of the Afghan border by Russia and its Central Asian allies in August and September.

Russia is worried about the possibility of Islamist militants infiltrating the former Soviet republics of , which Moscow views as its southern defensive buffer, Reuters reported.

Moscow operates a military base in the former Soviet republic and has reassured Dushanbe it would assist it in the event of any -border intrusion.

A high-level IEA delegation is set to visit Moscow this week for talks that will also involve China, , India and Iran, although a senior Russian official has been reported as saying he did not expect any breakthrough.

Zamir , President Vladimir ’s special representative on Afghanistan, also said officials from Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan would meet separately in Moscow on Tuesday to come up with a united position on the changing situation in Afghanistan.

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