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Russia's Medvedev to attend CSTO military drills in Kazakhstan

RIA Novosti

01:06 16/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev along with other leaders of the CSTO member states will attend on Friday the final stage of a post-Soviet rapid reaction force exercise in Kazakhstan.

The Collective Rapid Reaction Force of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) 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.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry said earlier that the presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia have confirmed their readiness to attend the final stage of the exercise with Medvedev, who arrived in Kazakhstan on Thursday for an official visit.

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

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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