Russia, Uzbekistan to hold military maneuvers near Afghan border

Uzbekistan's Termez military field (Arian Zwegers/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia and Uzbekistan will hold joint military maneuvers near the Uzbek-Afghan border amid increasing security concerns in Central Asia over Taliban offensives against government troops in northern Afghanistan.

Russia’s Central Military District’s press service said on July 20 that the drills will be held on Uzbekistan’s Termez military field from July 30 to August 10.

According to the press service, the exercises will involve around 1,500 troops and around 200 vehicles, including aircraft.

A day earlier the Central Military District’s commander, Aleksandr Lapin, told reporters that Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan will hold joint military maneuvers near the Tajik-Afghan border between August 5 to August 10.

Lapin’s press service said that personnel from Russia’s military base in Tajikistan, mountainous vehicular troops, tank and artillery units, as well as the district’s special units will take part in the maneuvers.

Hundreds of Afghans, including police and government troops, have fled the country in recent weeks and entered Tajikistan and Uzbekistan amid the Taliban offensive. The militants have captured around one-third of Afghanistan’s 423 districts since the start of the international military withdrawal on May 1.

The Taliban ramped up its offensives after U.S. President Joe Biden said in April that the withdrawal of U.S. forces would be completed by September 11. Biden later moved the date up to August 31.

The rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces, and the Taliban’s battlefield successes, have caused concerns that the Western-backed government in Kabul may collapse.