The Russian military has deployed S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Tajikistan.
In a statement over the weekend, the Russian military confirmed a deployment of the S-300 air-defense system to its 201st military base in Tajikistan, a CSTO ally of Russia. The military said, “In the 201st military base, the first ever crews of air defense systems S-300PS have entered combat duty. The systems arrived by rail in the Republic of Tajikistan from an arms depot of the Central Military District located in the Volga region.”
The statement confirms that the S-300 has been deployed in Tajikistan for the first time. The systems, according to RBC news agency, are to take up duty close to Tajikistan’s southern border with Afghanistan. A source told the media outlet, “This is the first S-300 missile system, which will be deployed on the border with Afghanistan, where the International Security Assistance Force operates.”
In Central Asia, only Kazakhstan operates the S-300. The country received secondhand systems from Russia in the last few years.
Russia’s deployment of the S-300 to Tajikistan falls under Moscow’s effort to deepen air-defense coordination between the Russian military and the other militaries of the CSTO alliance. The decision to place the system in Tajikistan is noteworthy, given that insurgents across the border in Afghanistan – the Taliban as well as a local Islamic State affiliate – do not possess aircraft.
The U.S. leads an international coalition in Afghanistan supporting the government’s efforts to defeat the Taliban insurgency. Recently, however, the U.S. has signaled a desire to wind down its presence in Afghanistan and move forward with a peace agreement between the government and the Taliban.
As insurgents have threatened Afghanistan’s stability, China, which shares a small border with Afghanistan, has bolstered its military presence in the region. China is said to have deployed troops to several posts in Tajikistan under an agreement with Dushanbe.