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Medvedev to visit Kazakhstan on October 15-16

RIA Novosti

21:57 13/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will arrive in Kazakhstan on Thursday for a two-day working visit, the Kremlin said in a statement Tuesday.

Medvedev will attend an exercise of the Collective Rapid Reaction Force of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the statement said.

The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

The joint force began the two-week exercise at Kazakhstan's Matybulak training grounds on October 2, with more than 7,000 personnel from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan taking part.

According to the CSTO Secretariat, the exercise is aimed at practicing the deployment of the force in crisis situations on the territory of member states.

Analysts say the creation of a powerful military contingent in Central Asia reflects Moscow's drive to make the CSTO a pro-Russian military bloc, rivaling NATO forces in Europe.

Russia's security strategy until 2020, recently approved by Medvedev, envisions the CSTO as "a key mechanism to counter regional military challenges and threats."

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