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Russia-Led Security Bloc Plans to Spend $1Bln on Weaponry

RIA Novosti

20:50 26/12/2013

MOSCOW, December 26 (RIA Novosti) – Members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of former Soviet states, are planning to allocate some 33 billion rubles ($1 billion) to procure new weaponry for its joint rapid reaction force, a senior CSTO official said Thursday.

According to CSTO Deputy General Secretary Valery Semerikov, an arms procurement program for the bloc's rapid reaction force has been approved by all member states and will be soon signed by their presidents.

"We will begin implementing this program in 2014. It will require an allocation of some 33 billion rubles," Semerikov said at a news conference in RIA Novosti.

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

The agreement to create a joint rapid-reaction force was signed by the leaders of all CSTO member states in 2009.

The force reportedly includes an airborne division and an air assault brigade from Russia, and an air assault brigade from Kazakhstan. The remaining members contribute a battalion-size force each, although Uzbekistan only agreed to "delegate" its detachments to take part in operations on an ad hoc basis.

In line with the agreement, the force will be used "to repulse military aggression, conduct anti-terrorist operations, fight transnational crime and drug trafficking, and neutralize the effects of natural disasters."

Outlining Russia's priorities during its current CSTO presidency, Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized further development of military cooperation and strengthening of the CSTO's rapid-reaction force in light of future peacekeeping missions as well as the fight against terrorism and drug-trafficking in Central Asia.

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