Conspiracy theories about drawing Belarus into a possible new Afghan war to deflect from Belarusian internal political problems have no basis in fact.
On October 15th, the arrival in Tajikistan of a Belarusian army contingent, alongside representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Emergency Situations was announced. This deployment is connected with the «Interaction-2021», «Search-2021» and «Echelon-2021» CSTO exercises scheduled for October 18-23rd, which this year will be held at a single training ground due to a new wave of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Sending Belarusian troops to Tajikistan, bordering Afghanistan, to participate in the exercises gave rise to a wave of speculation on the Belarusian Internet about the preparations for the introduction of martial law in Belarus under the pretext of aggression against one of the CSTO countries.
Such speculation has no basis. The «Central Asian region of collective security of the CSTO» has been the traditional venue for the Organization’s exercises for many years, and the exercises themselves are held regularly. Afghanistan has been regarded as a potential source of destabilization throughout the post-Soviet history of the region, so the upcoming exercises are not unusual.
In addition, there is no reason to believe that external aggression against a CSTO state would lead to the effective participation of all members (Belarus in particular) in repelling the threat. The low capacity of the CSTO is evidenced by the comments of insiders regarding the results of the Dushanbe summit, held in September, and the fact that Uzbekistan, which has one of the largest armies in the region, no longer considers the restoration of its membership in the CSTO as expedient.