Arillery and ground assault troops of the Russian Army have commenced combat drills at a base in Tajikistan which raises questions as to whether the training is to fine-tune skills for the warzone in Ukraine.
Units of the 201st military base of the Russian Federation are conducting an exercise at the Harb-Maidon training ground in Tajikistan, near the border with Afghanistan.
The exercise involves more than 1,000 troops and over 300 pieces of equipment including helicopters, the Central Military District (CVO) said on Monday.
"At the main stage of the exercise, which will take place until March 18, the servicemen will work out the operation to block and destroy illegal armed formations using reconnaissance-fire and reconnaissance-strike systems," the Russian military added.
The exercise will take place from March 14-18. Motorized rifle, artillery, tank and other units of the 201st base will take part in it.
The 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan is Russia's largest military facility outside its borders (part of the Central Military District). It is located in two cities - Dushanbe and Bokhtar. It includes motorized rifle, tank, artillery, reconnaissance units and air defense units.
The commander of the Central Military District, Alexander Lapin, reported in 2021 that three motorized rifle battalions of the 201st base were completely re-equipped with modern military equipment - BMP-2M and BTR-82A. Its anti-aircraft units received new and all-weather Verba complexes.
“The base also received Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems, ASVK-M Kord sniper rifles, AK-12 assault rifles, rocket-propelled infantry flamethrowers of increased range and power, and equipment from logistic and technical support services,” Lapin said in November 2021.
The Tajik base is also fortified with Russian S-300 missile systems.
Against the background of the Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan last year, Russia conducted a series of exercises with its allies from the CSTO in Tajikistan. The Russian military also reported on strengthening the base in Tajikistan with new weapons. In December, Russia sent 30 modernized T-72B3M tanks to replace older ones at the base.
The exercises in Tajikistan that commenced in September 2021 involved some of the key equipment used in the Ukraine war such as the Su-25 ground attack aircraft, Kornet anti-tank missile systems and T-72 tanks and BMP-2M armored vehicles. At that time western commentators suspected that the Tajik exercises were intended to prepare Russian troops for a possible invasion of Afghanistan.