YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—An Armenian army unit was flown to Tajikistan on Thursday to take part in exercises that will be held there by a rapid reaction force of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
The CSTO secretariat in Moscow announced that the exercises will take place near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan and involve 2,500 soldiers from all six CSTO member states making up the alliance’s Collective Operational Reaction Forces (CORF). In a statement, it said they will be backed by 200 tanks and armored vehicles as well as 20 warplanes and helicopters.
The participating troops reportedly include about 500 paratroopers from Russia.
The CSTO statement did not specify whether the drills are directly connected with security threats to Tajikistan emanating from Afghanistan. It said only that they follow a “sudden examination” of the CORF’s combat readiness.
The Armenian Defense Ministry reported that as part of that examination an Armenian contingent of the rapid reaction force was put on high alert on Wednesday. An Armenian military transport plane flew it to the Central Asian republic the following day.
A ministry statement did not disclose the number of Armenian soldiers that will join the drills.
The CORF was set up by Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan at Moscow’s initiative in 2009. The Russian side pledged at the time to supply the NATO-style force with modern weapons.