New integration attempts

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Last Wednesday, a preplanned meeting of the council of the defense ministers (SMO) of the CIS countries was held in Moscow. The ministers discussed 23 issues, including an analysis of the course of implementation of the concept of military cooperation of the CIS member states by 2010. The ministers also agreed on the issues of financing of the united air defense system of the CIS member states for 2008, conditions of flight safety, the plan of joint operational training events for 2008, and so forth.

At first glance, the discussed issues are important but they do not bring a real pay back to all participants of SMO. For example, SMO discussed the plan of military exercises Combat Commonwealth-2007 started on June 20. It is planned that all member states of the united air defense system of the CIS should participate in the exercises. However, representatives of Georgia did not even arrive at the meeting. The Turkmen Defense Minister ignored this event too, although Turkmenistan was a member of this system. Meanwhile, only six countries really participate in defense of the air borders of the CIS, namely Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Uzbekistan. They will take part in the exercises too.

Colonel Alexei Drobyshevsky, aide to the Commander of the Russian Air Force, reports that Combat Commonwealth-2007 will pass in four stages. The first part with participation of air force and air defense units of Russia, Belarus and Russian Baltic Fleet will take place at the Telemba training range. Among participants of the second stage to be held in the second half of August at Ashuluk training range in the Astrakhan Region will be air force and air defense units of Russia, Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. The third and the fourth stages of the exercises will take place between the end of August and the beginning of September on Kazakh and Uzbek training ranges with participation of air force and air defense units of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

The exercises will include firing practice of air defense systems S -75, S-125, S-200, S-300, Krug and Kub. Drobyshevsky adds that aviation will be represented by airplanes Su-24, Su-25, Su-27 and MiG-29 that will fulfill tasks of coverage, escort and attacking of air and ground targets.

Thus, multilateral military integration activities in post-Soviet space is carried out mostly by the countries being members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB). Cooperation with other CIS countries is reduced. Of course, this does not correspond to the interests of Moscow but Russian authorities cannot change anything at this point.

Meanwhile, meetings of Russian Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, with colleagues from Azerbaijan and the Ukraine, Safar Abiev and Anatoly Gritsenko, were held before the summit of the defense ministers.

Thus, defense ministers of Russia and Azerbaijan signed a protocol on the status of authorized representatives for the fulfillment of the agreement regarding the Gabala radar station. This document is important because American specialists may be admitted to Gabala in the framework of the creation of common antimissile defense in Europe. Negotiations of Serdyukov with Gritsenko were important too. The defense ministers confirmed their participation in the meeting of the security subcommittee of the Ukrainian-Russian interstate commission to be held on July 6 in Moscow. The Ukrainian party confirmed its readiness to keep providing objects of the research center of shipborne aviation NITKA in Saki (Crimea) for the training of Russian pilots. The defense ministers of the Ukraine and Russia also agreed on the organization of exchange of experience of students of higher military educational institutions of the two countries.

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