Afghanistan Russia buildup
October 19, 2021 - The Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) is staging military drills with 5,000 troops near the Tajik-Afghan border. Tajikistan has refused to recognise the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan and supports the anti-Taliban National Resistance Front (NRF) in the Panjshir Valley.
The government in Dushanbe has also provided safe houses for ousted Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh and NRF leader Ahmad Massoud. Tajikistan also awarded the country’s highest distinction to Massoud’s father, former Afghan defence minister Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the Lion of Panjshir.
According to NRF Tweets, more than 200 anti-Taliban warlords with some 10,000 fighters from the northern provinces are awaiting orders from Massoud to join the NRF in the Panjshir Valley.
The CSTO comprises six post-Soviet states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
Since the Taliban took over Kabul in August, the CSTO has mounted several drills along Afghanistan’s northern border. On September 7-9, several thousand troops took part in exercise Rubezh (Frontier) in Kyrgyzstan. Currently, three six-day drills (Poisk 2021 (Search 2021), Echelon 2021 and Vzaimodeystviye 2021 (Interaction 2021) are active in Harbmaidon Momirak close to the Tajik-Afghan border. More drills will take place in November.
The drills come as Moscow reinforces the 7,000 troops of its 201st Military Base at Dushanbe and Bokhtar with NSV “Utyos” 12.7 mm heavy machine guns and Kornet anti-tank missile systems. The 201st Military comprises motor rifle, armoured, artillery and reconnaissance units, air defence forces, radiation, chemical and biological protection and signal troops.