Tajik-Russian joint military exercise in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) closed on July 21 with a final phase at the “Jelondi” training ground featuring missions with ground-attack aircraft SU-25 and combat helicopters.  The “Jelondi” training ground is located at the altitude of 3,500 meters above sea level in Shugnan district, some 120 kilometers to the east of Khorog.

The scenario of the exercise that kicked off on July 17 was based on terrorist groups attempting to penetrate into Tajik territory from Afghanistan.

The purpose of the exercise was to rehearse mobilization of reservists as well as coordination and interaction in combat missions in mountains to annihilate terrorist groups that managed to penetrate into Tajik territory.  

Tajik Minister of Defense, Colonel-General Sherali Mirzo, was reportedly in overall command of the war game that involved 700 servicemen of Tajikistan’s Armed Forces and border troops, 400 servicemen of the Russian military base deployed in Tajikistan and some 10,000 reservists along civilian support services, armored vehicles, ground-support aircraft and combat helicopters.    

It is the first joint exercise conducted for Tajik and Russian servicemen in the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region. 

The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region sits at the nexus of security problems including Uighur unrest in China’s Xinjiang region; Afghanistan’s war and opium trafficking; and jihadists’ potential return from Iraq and Syria to China, Central Asia or Russia.  

Meanwhile some experts consider that the ongoing war game is Russia’s possible response to China’s security interests in the region.