Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 162

Selected units of the Russian army’s 201st division and the Tajik army’s 1st motorized brigade held a joint combat exercise yesterday on the Tajik-Afghan border. Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov and Russian ambassador Yevgeny Belov watched the exercise, which was commanded jointly by Lieutenant-General Nikolay Pugachev and Defense Minister Sherali Hairulloev. The scenario was officially described as “repulsing a large-scale invasion from across the border,” evidently implying Taliban forces from Afghanistan. (Russian agencies, September 2 and 3)

The modest size and the brevity of the exercise would seem to belie the purported scenario. The exercise may have been a sop to a panicky Rahmonov from the Russian military command. The Tajik president has clamored for beefing up Russian forces in Tajikistan and upgrading their battle readiness in response to the latest Talib gains in northern Afghanistan. The Russian military and border troop commands, however, consider Talib attacks unlikely and the situation on the border unthreatening. They question the need for any special response to developments in Afghanistan at this time.–VS

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