MOSCOW, August 1(Itar-Tass) - A battalion of Russia’s 31st Airborne Assault Brigade airlifted to Kyrgyzstan Thursday is holding an exercise in protection and defense of Russian military installations in case of possible deterioration of security after U.S.-led international coalition forces withdrawal from Afghanistan scheduled for 2014.
“The dispatching of airborne soldiers on a mission to Kyrgyzstan doesn’t have anything to do will a drill in peacekeeping objectives,” a source close to General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces told Itar-Tass.
“The exercise, in which the battalion is taking part in line with Central Military District’s command plan, aims to practice a buildup of safeguards and defense of Russian military facilities in Kyrgyzstan and to ensure security of the Russian servicemen /deployed in Kyrgyzstan - Itar-Tass/ and members of their families in case the situation in the republic deteriorates,” the source said.
“The case in hand is a possible penetration of the Kyrgyzstani territory by large groups of extremists in the wake of coalition forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the threat these paramilitaries may pose to the Russian citizens and military installations in Kyrgyzstan,” the source said.
“The battalion participating in the exercise reports to the commanders of Russia’s Central Military District for the time being, as it is assigned to that district for the period of the maneuvers,” he said.
Spokespeople for the Central Military District told Itar-Tass earlier that a peacekeeping battalion of the 31st Brigade of Airborne Troops arrived at the Kant airbase in Kyrgyzstan Sunday. It has the strength of 400 servicemen and officers.
Small arms and munitions for them are the only types of weaponry the Russian blue berets have taken along with them.
The same battalion was airlifted by three Ilyushin-76 transport jets to the base in Kant in June 2010 when the political situation in Kyrgyzstan aggravated sharply. The goal of operation then was also to protect and defend the Russian military installations, the servicemen deployed their and members of their families.