NOVOSIBIRSK, August 5. /TASS/. The Russian military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will be used in protecting the frontiers of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) member states in case of a direct aggression from Afghanistan, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday.
"Our base in Tajikistan is powerful and strong enough. Of course, if necessary, it will be involved in protecting the CSTO frontiers in case of a direct aggression. The same relates to our base in Kyrgyzstan. Such a need may also arise there," the defense chief said at a meeting with the scientific community of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in response to a question about measures being taken to ward off threats emanating from Afghanistan.
The CSTO member states cannot be on a par with Russia by their scope and defense potential and need assistance in the Afghan direction as this finally concerns Russia’s military security, Shoigu pointed out.
"We hope that the agreements that exist with the Taliban [radical militant group outlawed in Russia] will be fulfilled. However, considering the previous experience, it is hard to believe in this at once. It is necessary to tackle this issue so that all these threats do not confront our country. In this regard, it is necessary to support our CSTO partners in every possible way and help them," Russia’s defense chief stressed.
Replying to a question about Russia’s financial costs in this regard, the defense chief said: "If we speak about money, these are not so big expenditures we should think about when we tackle such matters."
Moscow and Dushanbe are implementing a joint program of rearming the Tajik army but now a need has arisen to deal with strengthening the combat potential of the republic’s border guards, Shoigu said.
"The program is large and is intended almost until 2040. But now a substantiated need has emerged to deal not only with the army but also with the border," Russia’s defense chief stressed.
The Russian defense minister also said that Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had launched large-scale drills to practice tasks related to the situation in the region. Over 1,000 Russian troops were engaged in the joint maneuvers, he added.