Russia will do mock air raids near the Afghan border, but no real strikes are planned, according to Russian officials.
Russia has announced coordinated air drills with Uzbekistan along the Central Asian country’s Afghan border, but has disputed reports that real airstrikes are in the works.
Su-25SM attack aircraft from the Central Military District’s aviation fleet deployed in friendly Kyrgyzstan will take part in joint Russian-Uzbek aerial drills from July 30 to August 20, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The “practical element of the training event will take place at the Termez training site in the area bordering Afghanistan,” according to the ministry.
“During the exercise, Russian pilots will offer air support to a joint group of forces executing combat training missions in order to maintain the territorial integrity of Central Asian states,” according to the statement. “In addition, the Su-25SM aircrew will seek for and destroy hidden enemy bases, as well as practice strategies for avoiding portable anti-aircraft missile system attacks.”
Despite fears of instability in Afghanistan growing among regional players as the Taliban gains and bloodshed rises in tandem with the US military withdrawal, Moscow’s top diplomat insisted no military involvement was being discussed.
During an interview with the Interfax news agency on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “No one is talking about any targeted strikes on Afghanistan, and no one is even thinking about invading Afghanistan.”
He claimed that Russia’s current policy differed from that of the United States or even the former Soviet Union, which fought a decade-long war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, only to withdraw through Uzbekistan amid gains by local and foreign mujahideen forces aided by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.
“You’re conflating us with the Americans or with the experience we’ve ‘carried over’ from the Soviet era,” Lavrov added. “Our society is adamant about the necessity to secure our borders and to provide appropriate conditions for other countries to secure their borders through internal accords based on national ideology.”
Security responsibilities to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan under the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which also includes Armenia and Belarus as members, are included in these agreements. Uzbekistan was an as well. This is a condensed version of the information.