DUSHANBE, April 18, 2016, Asia-Plus – Tajik servicemen together with servicemen from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia are taking part in a military reconnaissance exercise, the first of its kind, which began in Tajikistan today.

The exercise is taking place at the training ground of Maghob in the Khatlon province, which borders Afghanistan and at the training ground of Lohour, not far from Dushanbe.

An official source at the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan (MoD), says about 1,500 servicemen from CSTO member states Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan are taking part in the exercise that will conclude on April 22.

Yaroslav Roshchupkin, a spokesman for Russia’s Central Military District, says units of military reconnaissance, aerial reconnaissance, radar reconnaissance, as well as special forces of the Central Military District are representing Russia at the military reconnaissance exercise in Tajikistan, dubbed “Search 2016.”

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha, who arrived in Tajikistan yesterday on a four-day working visit, has reportedly attended an official opening of the exercise.

We will recall that the CSTO troops drill against 700-strong terrorist groups’ invasion of Tajikistan was conducted on the Tajik-Afghan border in May last year.  The first step was deploying the 2,500 troops, without prior notice, to the exercise site in Tajikistan''s Khatlon province.  According to the scenario of the exercises, the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border seriously deteriorated.  Armed groups invaded the territory of Tajikistan from the territory of Afghanistan.  The Tajikistan armed forces together with other security structures carry out military operations to repel the invasion.  Military units from the various CSTO member states carried out individual tasks.

The regional security organization was initially formed in 1992 for a five-year period by the members of the CIS Collective Security Treaty (CST) -- Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which were joined by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Belarus the following year.  A 1994 treaty reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force, and prevented signatories from joining any “other military alliances or other groups of states” directed against members states.  The CST was then extended for another five-year term in April 1999, and was signed by the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.  In October 2002, the group was renamed as the CSTO.  Uzbekistan that suspended its membership in 1999 returned to the CSTO again in 2006 after it came under international criticism for its brutal crackdown of antigovernment demonstrations in the eastern city of Andijon in May 2005.  On June 28, 2012, Uzbekistan announced that it has suspended its membership of the CSTO, saying the organization ignores Uzbekistan and does not consider its views.  The CSTO is currently an observer organization at the United Nations General Assembly.