MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Shoigu underscored that Central Asia remains a strategic direction for Russia because of the continuing instability in the region, citing the ongoing political turmoil in Afghanistan.
"The command of the [Central] military district pays special attention to the implementation of joint practical measures with the armed forces of the Central Asian countries, which contributes to strengthening Russia's positions in this region," Shoigu said, speaking at a meeting of the Defense Ministry Board.
The minister also said that the Russian military held joint drills with the Tajik forces in July. He added that in the second half of the year Russia will hold joint combat training with the armed forces of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Afghanistan, which is located south of the Central Asian nations, has long been suffering from unstable political, social and security situation due to the simmering militant insurgency. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have been conducting joint operations to combat terrorism across the country.