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CSTO plans to expand its military contingent

RIA Novosti

14/05/2007 12:52 MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is planning to create a large military contingent comprising units and formations of several Central Asian states, the head of the post-Soviet security group said Monday.

CSTO members - Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - use the organization as a platform to fight drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime, and have pledged to provide immediate military assistance to one another in the event of an attack.

The bloc has a Collective Rapid Reaction Force deployed in Central Asia, and is continuing to build up its military forces.

"We are planning to create a larger [military] contingent on the basis of a Collective Rapid Reaction Force in Central Asia that would comprise units and formations from four or five Central Asian states," CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha told a news conference at RIA Novosti.

Bordyuzha said that experts are finalizing the coordination of a draft agreement and documents on effective combat strength and deployment of a new military contingent.

He also said the next meeting of the CSTO's Collective Security Council has been scheduled for July 17 in Moscow to discuss the organization's peacekeeping mechanisms.

The CSTO is widely viewed as a post-Soviet instrument for preventing NATO's further eastward expansion and to keep Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries under Russia's military protection.

Russia earlier said a united regional air defense system could encompass almost all the territory of the former Soviet Union within the CSTO framework in the future.

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