Troops from Russia and Uzbekistan have begun joint military drills near the Afghan border amid fears the worsening security situation in Afghanistan could spill over into central Asia.
Russia says 1500 Russian and Uzbek troops will take part in the five-day exercises that began at the Termez military site in Uzbekistan, the TASS news agency reported on Monday.
In a sign of how serious Moscow is taking the potential threat from Afghanistan, it said it would send a much bigger military contingent to Tajikistan for separate trilateral exercises due to begin there later this week.
Those separate drills are due to take place on August 5-10 and involve Russian, Uzbek and Tajik forces.
Security has rapidly deteriorated in Afghanistan following the US and allied troop withdrawal. Moscow fears that could destabilise its southern defensive flank and push refugees into its central Asian backyard.
On Monday, Russia's defence ministry said 1800 of its soldiers would take part in the Tajik drills, instead of 1000 as initially planned. More than 2500 troops would be involved in total, it said.
Moscow will also use 420 units of military hardware for the drills, double the quantity originally planned, it said.
Australian Associated Press