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Nov 9, 2021
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Afghan near Kazan: CSTO uses the experience of Syria and Karabakh in exercises

Photo: Peacekeeping exercises "Indestructible Brotherhood - 2021" CSTO in Kazan

Photo: Peacekeeping exercises “Indestructible Brotherhood – 2021” CSTO in Kazan (Photo: Yegor Aleev / TASS)

It is difficult to call the large-scale maneuvers “Indestructible Brotherhood-2021”, which are now taking place on the territory of Tatarstan from November 8 to 12, – 1,800 participants (more than 200 thousand people were involved in the recent West-2021 exercises), but they are represented by military contingents six countries belonging to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Representatives of the armies of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan arrived in Kazan (the exercises are being held at the training ground of the Kazan Higher Tank Command School).

The host country is Russia, represented by servicemen of the 15th separate motorized rifle peacekeeping brigade of the Central Military District from the Samara region. Also, the exercises involve the forces and means of the signal troops, special forces, electronic warfare, NBC protection and the military police of the Central Military District. The relatively small number of participants in the “Indestructible Brotherhood-2021” is also explained by the fact that these are command-and-staff exercises, in which the strategy of actions is developed to a greater extent, and the troops in the field are maneuvering in limited numbers. Last year, for a similar CSTO exercise that took place in Belarus, for example, only 400 Russian servicemen went – the number here does not really matter. The main thing is experience.

It is worth noting that Russia has something to share in terms of conducting peacekeeping operations. So the servicemen of the 15th brigade present at the current CSTO exercises form the basis of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh, where they successfully carry out their mission. And speaking of the importance of interaction and cohesion of the CSTO member states, the commander of the Central Military District Colonel General Alexander Lapin at the opening of the exercises, he noted that in their course the planning and conduct of a peacekeeping operation will be worked out, taking into account the experience gained in Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh.

What mission the CSTO troops might have at the current stage was not specified, and the venue itself near Kazan is not tied to any geographic territory. Yes, the Republic of Tatarstan is famous for its picturesque peaks – the Lobach, Chuksha mountains and others, but they clearly do not reach the Karabakh steep slopes, not to mention the spurs of the Pamirs. But the main threat to the CSTO countries of Central Asia comes precisely from Afghanistan, on the border with them it was not calm before, and since the Taliban came to power in Kabul *, the situation has worsened significantly. And it’s not only about the likelihood of an armed conflict, but also about the unorganized flows of refugees, which could eventually penetrate into Russia.

Colonel-General Lapin did not mention Afghanistan in Kazan now, but it was read between the lines.

“To carry out joint actions from the military contingents of six states in the shortest possible time, we will create a powerful heterogeneous grouping of troops with a unified command and control system, capable of efficiently performing the entire range of tasks to combat international terrorism, overcome conflicts and protect civilians,” says the commander of the Central Military District, to whom he is subordinate and the 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan, parts of which are located in Dushanbe and Bokhtar. The Russian base, by the way, will stay in Tajikistan, according to the agreement, at least until 2042.

In addition to other tasks, the current CSTO exercises will also work out a tactical episode of blocking a settlement captured by illegal armed groups and their destruction. This is not about the elimination of abstract terrorists, but about large forces, under which, first of all, one can suspect the Taliban detachments on the territory of neighboring countries. The peacekeepers will now work out actions not only at checkpoints, but also tasks in the refugee camp, escorting convoys with humanitarian cargo and providing assistance to the victims.

And here it will be problematic to do without collective forces and common efforts. “In order to neutralize potential threats in the current conditions, the interaction and cohesion of the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, as well as the building up of alliance in the military sphere, are needed more than ever. We will need to be fully prepared at any time to ensure security and maintain peace in our countries, ”General Lapin said.

If now the exercises “Indestructible Brotherhood-2021”, in which there is a latent feeling of preparation for repelling some aggression from Afghanistan, are held near Kazan, then other CSTO exercises this year (and even earlier) are held directly on the Afghan border.

Only last October, with the participation of the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces of the CSTO in Tajikistan, the exercises “Interaction-2021”, Echelon-2021 “and” Poisk-2021 “were held. In September, Kyrgyzstan held joint exercises “Rubezh-2021” and a number of others, where Russian servicemen (mainly from the 201st base) and military aircraft were involved. All of them took place in close proximity to the borders with Afghanistan.

In addition to Afghanistan, the main threats to the CSTO are also the growth of international terrorist activity and the increase in the US presence in Europe. This was recently announced by Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov, chief of the CSTO Joint Staff.

He also attributed to threats the increase in the scale of operations in cyberspace, the continuing anti-Russian rhetoric of the ruling regime in Ukraine and the persistence of high conflict tensions in Syria and Afghanistan. How to respond to them within the framework of the CSTO? Send troops to Afghanistan or other countries?

– The prospects for Russia’s participation in military conflicts in adjacent territories can be considered above the low level of probability, – said the political scientist, vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Konstantin Sivkov… – Most likely, they will be avoided precisely because of the very policy of Russia, which itself does not show aggressiveness towards its neighbors. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it has no aggressive intentions towards any countries. It is another matter that the fanned myth of “Russian aggression” can provoke Russia’s involvement in conflict situations.

The most likely direction here is the east of Ukraine. If Kiev decides to invade Donbass, or to some kind of armed provocation on the Russian-Ukrainian border, both in the Donbass itself and in Crimea, Moscow is able to respond decisively and harshly.

This is an extremely undesirable scenario for the two sides, which only plays into the hands of the West, and primarily the United States, where, with the coming to power John Biden “Hawks of war” will rock the situation in Eastern Europe in every possible way, and at the same time “keep in good shape” Afghanistan, which they hastily left. In any case, we are primarily talking about the protection of our borders and common security, and here the CSTO is a powerful instrument of influencing deterrence and threats.


* “Taliban Movement” by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation from 14.02.2003 year recognized as extremist, his activity in Russia is prohibited.

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