RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTER BRIEFS PUTIN ON RECENT JOINT EXERCISES WITH CHINA

RTR Russia TV, Moscow
31 Aug 05

[Presenter] Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov reported to the president
today on the results of the exercises in August: Russia and CIS
countries taking part in air defence live firing in Astrakhan Region,
and the big Russian-Chinese manoeuvres. Both events concerned not
only practising cooperation between troops but also the possibility
of creating new systems of regional security.

[Correspondent] When the minister of defence told the president that
August was a hot month, he meant of course not the air temperature.
It is a long time since the ministry held this many exercises. The
president himself watched over the ships of the Northern Fleet and
Long-Range Aviation [aircraft] in the Barents Sea. Sergey Ivanov
assessed the manoeuvres in the Yellow Sea which involved 10,000 men
together with his Chinese counterpart. Pacific Fleet ships, marines
and aviation, air assault troops and even Tu-95 missile carriers were
our contribution to the Russian-Chinese exercise.

[Ivanov, shown in Putin's office, captioned Bocharov Ruchey] The
difficulty was that both we and the Chinese had to plan the passes by
the aircraft very precisely, to the second, and direct all this. It
was all carried out successfully, and our troops learned some very
good skills, both in mobility and in using modern types and examples
of weapons and equipment.

[Putin] Are there any agreements with our Chinese partners on any
future measures [words inaudible] of a similar kind?

[Ivanov] We would like to plan [word indistinct] exercises of this
kind. It is possible that our partners in the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization [SCO] could be involved, because all these exercises
are taking place within the SCO framework.

[Correspondent] Ivanov said the results of the exercise were still
to be analyzed in detail, but the first results were definitely
positive. He gave roughly the same assessment to Combat Commonwealth
2005, a CIS air defence troops exercise at the Ashuluk range in
Astrakhan Region. Armenian, Tajik, Belarusian and Russian servicemen
carried out successful launches. This was the sixth such exercise,
but in some respects it was the first.

[Ivanov] For the first time we succeeded in setting up a joint
command post, not one for each nation, but joint. Which in fact is
the prototype for setting up a regional air defence system within
the framework of the CIS. It could be eastern European, if it is in
Belarus, or it could be Caucasian if it is in Armenia, or it could
be Central Asian, naturally with our partners in the Collective
Security Treaty.

[Correspondent] Of course, Russia is not entirely indifferent to
precisely who will be taking part in the next exercise. Tomorrow,
800 foreign citizens, mainly from the CIS, will become students at
Russian military higher education institutions. But Putin recalled
that under Russian legislation foreigners cannot be on military duty
or stand guard like Russian citizens.

[Ivanov] We have allowed it. I don't think anything terrible will
happen.

[Putin] I don't think so either, but we do have to observe the law,
so we will have to give this some thought and ask the [Duma] deputies.

[Correspondent] Ivanov promised that the autumn would also be hot for
the military. Russian soldiers are expected in September at an Uzbek
mountain [exercise] range, and in October in India. Ivanov emphasized
that the joint exercises are not directed against third countries,
because the principles of Russian geopolitics were stated long ago:
fighting international terrorism, and defence of Russia's own borders
and interests.