Russia deploys tanks near Afghan border ahead of exercises

Russia deploys tanks near Afghan border ahead of exercises
© Getty

Russia deployed tanks near Afghanistan’s border with Tajikistan on Tuesday as it prepares for military drills next month, according to a Russian state media outlet.

T-72 tanks from Russia’s military base in Tajikistan drove roughly 124 miles to the country’s Kharb-Maidon practice range, less than 15 miles from the border with Afghanistan. The move comes ahead of an exercise between Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Aug. 5-10, TASS Russian News Agency reported, citing Russia's Central Military District.

Russia’s actions follow major advances from the Taliban in Afghanistan as the Biden administration looks to pull U.S. troops from the country by the end of August.

ADVERTISEMENT

The pullout from America’s longest war is more than 95 percent done, according to the latest figures released by U.S. Central Command on Tuesday.

But the departure of American forces, which have fought in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, has emboldened the Taliban to quickly take back roughly half of the country’s districts.

The Taliban earlier this month claimed to control 85 percent of Afghanistan’s territory, including several Afghan border crossings with countries like Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. 

Russia now fears thousands of refugees may flee into several of its Central Asian partner countries, destabilizing its military hold on the region.

During Moscow’s deployment, the T-72 crews “practiced providing combat security for military columns, overcoming notionally contaminated terrain sections, repelling enemy subversive and reconnaissance groups and airstrikes,” TASS reported.

After the tanks arrived at the range, “the crews started setting up their positions and providing cover for combat vehicles,” the statement added.

Russia also said Tuesday it would hold drills with Uzbek troops in southern Uzbekistan from July 30 to Aug. 10.