Russia is reinforcing its bases in Central Asia to prevent a fresh influx of extremism in its backyard following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
The recent military drills that took place on the Afghan border with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan had Russian forces from these bases—sending a clear signal to the Taliban not to invade or cause problems in the region.
Among its bases, Russia maintains its largest presence in Tajikistan where it has deployed its 201 motorised division.
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In Tajikistan, the division operates from Dushanbe, and Bokhtar, located 100 km to the south of the Tajik capital. The Russians also operate from the Okno base to maintain surveillance over the skies, thus making Tajikistan the core for fostering stability in the entire Central Asian region.
The Russians have recently steeled their presence in Tajikistan by deploying their latest Kornet anti-tank missile systems, to deter any intrusion by tanks and mechanised infantry from the Afghan side.
The huge 201 military base network houses self-propelled artillery, that is artillery guns mounted on a tracked vehicle to provide heavy fire power on the move. The base also houses tanks and conventional artillery guns to strike enemy columns in depth. Besides, the base has air defence forces, to counter attacks by fighter jets as well as troops that can operate in a nuclear, biological and chemical warfare environment. The Russians also deploy their highly potent S-300 air defence missiles at the base.
Under an agreement signed with Russia in October 2012, Russia can operate the base for 30 years.
Russia has a military base in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. Moscow has ensured that the base is strengthened steadily. It has been replenished with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and plans are afoot to improve its air and missile systems as well. Moscow also maintains its 338th naval communication centre as well as the Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan as well as the 954th torpedo testing range and a seismographic station.
Russia also maintains a military base in Kazakhstan which is historically famous for the Baikonur Cosmodrome--the site of the earth's first artificial satellite. The Russians also run the Sary Shagan anti-ballistic missile testing range in Kazakhstan.
Over the last decade, it has also been building military bases and other infrastructure in the Arctic. As the waters melt, it is looking at exploiting the rich resources of the region.
Besides central Asia, Russia also has military bases in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and Abkhazia in eastern Europe.
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Russia maintains its bases under the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a security umbrella, which is key to the protection of the member countries in Central Asia, including their military modernisation.
Under this alliance, which is similar to the US-led NATO, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had recently promised to protect the Central Asian countries in case of possible attacks by the Taliban.