Russian Su-25 Jets Conduct Show of Force on Tajik-Afghan Border as Taliban Gains Ground

Amid growing concerns of rising instability in Afghanistan, in the wake of a rapid shift in the balance of power in the country as NATO forces withdraw and the Afghan military faces collapse, Russia had deployed Su-25 Frogfoot attack jets to Tajikistan to conduct exercises near the Afghan border. 

"Su-25 aircraft have been airlifted from the airfield of the Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan to the Gissar Airfield in Tajikistan to participate in a trilateral exercise to be held from August 5 to 10 in the Khatlon region at the Harb-Maidon training ground," according to an official statement, with personnel from Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan participating trilateral exercises there. 

Russia maintains a considerable military presence in Central Asia, and while the Soviet Union previously bordered Afghanistan these borders today fall under the states of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. 

Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan have controlled the Tajik border for several weeks, and are reported to control over 80 percent of the country’s landmass, with Afghan soldiers seeking asylum in Tajikistan shortly before the border changed hands. 

Russia has warned that that the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, which includes five other post-Soviet states Tajikistan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, would "act decisively" to stop any aggression or provocations at its borders. 

Although Turkmenistan has positive relations with members of the organization, its position of absolute neutrality means it is not a member, while the superior capabilities of its armed forces limit the risk of a threat from its Afghan border. 

The deployment of the Su-25 is expected to send a strong signal to any potential parties that threaten Russia’s neighbors from the ground, with the aircraft widely considered the world’s most capable close air support and ground attack platform. The jet has seen extensive combat in Afghanistan in the 1980s, more recently in Syria in the 2010s, as well as in the hands of multiple foreign operators such as Iraq, Sudan, and Georgia. 

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