CSTO rapid deployment forces to hold joint exercises (adds)
By Mikhail Peterov

ITAR-TASS News Agency
June 18, 2004 Friday 12:22 AM Eastern Time

ASTANA, June 18 -- Rapid deployment forces of the Collective Security
Treaty Organisation (CSTO) will hold joint exercises in Central Asia
in late July-early August, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov
told a briefing at the outcome of the CSTO summit here on Friday.

He said the first phase of the war games will take place in Kazakhstan
and the second, in Kyrgyzstan.

"In the exercises, Russia will be represented by combat units and
commando forces, which will be airlifted to the scene of the exercises,
as well as combat planes and helicopters," the minister said. "The
aircraft will carry out real bomb-droppings and simulate actions in
an unfamiliar theatre of operations," Ivanov said.

According to Ivanov, "these war games will demonstrate the CSTO rapid
deployment forces' resolve to rebuff any attempts to destabilize
the situation."

Ivanov also said the summit had mapped out the main directions of
the coalition military cooperation up to 2010.

According to the minister, Russia and Uzbekistan in 2005 intend to
hold joint exercises "with the use of warplanes, helicopter gun ships
and commando forces."

"The war games will be held in a mountainous test range near
Samarkand," he indicated.

Answering a question on a possible return of Uzbekistan to the
Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) Ivanov said, "Russia
builds its relations with Uzbekistan so that the partner could feel
welcome and convenient. If Uzbekistan shows no wish to join the CSTO,
Russia doesn't intend to persuade it," the minister said.

"We are ready to hold talks and do not plan to run away and hide head
in the sand."

Heads of six CIS countries - Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia,
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - signed the Collective Security Treaty in
Tashkent in 1992. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Belarus joined the treaty
in 1993.

The treaty came into force in all nine countries in April 1994. But
in April 1999 Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan decided not to sign
a protocol on its prolongation.

In 2002, the Collective Security Treaty format was transformed into
a valid international organisation-CSTO.

The CSTO rules say the member-countries take joint actions to form
an efficient collective security system within the framework of
the Organisation, create regional military groupings and coordinate
their efforts in fighting with international terrorism, drug and arms
trafficking, organised crime, illegal migration and other threats.