The recent meeting of the council of defense ministers of CIS countries in Moscow shows that Russia is accelerating military integration within the CIS

Among the problems which the CIS countries are solving through cooperation, the military problems are a priority. According to Major General Alexander Sinaisky, the secretary of the council of defense ministers of the CIS countries (SMO), activities in the sphere of military-technical cooperation between the CIS countries are currently regulated by about 500 documents. However, according to Sinaisky, unfortunately, the majority of them do not work. This is caused by the fact that approval of an agreement, treaty, or plan in the CIS is not always supported by material conditions, political goals and tasks are sometimes different, and the situation is frequently changing.

It has already become objectively necessary to legally regulate the issues of informatization, standardization, and creation of joint unified systems in the CIS. Parliaments of some republics unjustly delay ratification of some treaties and agreements, which are very important for the CIS vital activities. If these problems are solved, the number of documents will grow. However, their efficiency and ability to work will be improved.

According to Sinaisky, the secretariat of the SMO helps a great deal to solve these problems. Together with the staff for coordination of military cooperation between the CIS countries, the secretariat is a permanently operating work body of the SMO, and is intended for organizational-technical, informational-analytic, and consulting support of the SMO functioning. Proceeding from the purpose of the secretariat, its members defined its functions. The secretariat prepares draft work plans and other documents for consideration of the SMO. It considers and summarizes the incoming proposals and materials in regards to its meetings’ agenda, conducts expert examination and improvement of the necessary documents, organizes consultations, conducts the registration, analysis, storage, and sending of materials dealing with the SMO activities to defense ministers.

The secretariat employs 15 people. Their activities are distributed in three main spheres of the SMO operations: analytical, consulting, and organizational-technical ones. Sinaisky says that in response to the NATO eastward expansion, Moscow is starting to take a new approach to the problems of military-technical cooperation with the CIS countries. Of course, CIS countries do not like all military initiatives of Russia, but similarity of interests and common problems of some countries contribute to the desire by countries to achieve military integration.

Annual tactical exercises and training of air defense forces of the CIS countries have become traditional. Almost all CIS countries take part in these exercises to a various extent.

The SMO has approved “Provisions on procedure and conditions of military personnel training in military-technical educational institutions of the CIS countries.” This document takes into account the experience of real cooperation in the sphere of military personnel training, regulates the duties of the parties regarding selection of candidates, defines the rights, status, and procedure of the training of students from the CIS countries. In March, the staff-command exercises were conducted in preparation of proposals for decision making and planning of peacekeeping operations. In August the staff-command exercises dedicated to “Preparation of proposals for an operation of a coalition (regional) group of forces aimed at parrying of aggression in an area of collective security” were conducted. In these exercises, operational groups of the general (main) staffs of the armed forces of the CIS countries, representatives of the executive and work bodies of the CIS, and officers of the staff for coordination of military-technical cooperation between the CIS countries (SHKVS) participated. Besides the military tasks, practice exercises in political decision making in cases of emergency in the CIS were also carried out.

Between October 27 and November 2, the SHKVS organized and conducted the joint staff-command exercise “Southern Shield of the Commonwealth-99” taking into account the real situation in Southern Kyrgyzstan by the order of the military-political leadership of the CIS countries. The coalition character of the exercises facilitated development of a universal mechanism for reaction to challenges and threats to the CIS security, no matter in which region and in which form they appear.

Thus, in the sphere of military contacts between the CIS countries, two tendencies are obvious. The first tendency is associated with the intention of some countries to seek to separate themselves from the integration processes and to solve their regional problems themselves. For example, The Central Asian republics are united by the common military tasks of resistance to terrorism. Political and partially military-political goals are also set up in cooperation between the so-called GUUAM countries (in this organization participate Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova).

Belarus and Russia maintain rather strong military-political contacts. According to Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, Moscow and Minsk consider the issues “of joint use of the military infrastructure and provision of military security of both countries.” “We have no obstacles in this path, because the necessary political decisions have already been made,” stressed Sergeev. He added, “We understand the importance of this issue and are moving ahead.” According to him, the military leadership of Russia and Belarus has already formed “military bodies for collective management” of the joint group of forces being created.

Along with this, especially in 1999 common contacts of the CIS countries were activated, which is confirmed by the recent meeting of the SMO. The SHKVS reported that the meeting was presided over by Defense Minister Sergeev. In the meeting, defense ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan were present. Only the defense ministers of Kazakhstan (he was represented by his deputy), Moldova, and Turkmenistan were absent at the meeting. The Kazakh Defense Minister did not arrive,because at that time he was in the US together with President Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan, where he signed a range of documents on cooperation with Pentagon. The SHKVS accepted this as a credible reason. The absence of defense ministers of Moldova and Turkmenistan is explained by the fact that these countries do not participate in collective bodies of the CIS and prefer bilateral relations.

Participants of the meeting discussed 28 issues dealing with further development of the military-technical cooperation. Among them were plans for 2000, improvement of united air defense system of the CIS, and activities of the work bodies of the SMO. Special attention was focused on development of methods of formation of collective security systems and cooperative counter-actions to international terrorism.

Unlike the meetings of the last few years, this time the defense ministers arrived together with their wives. While the husbands were consulting each other, their wives were offered a cultural program. In the afternoon a holiday party dedicated to the New Year 2000 and celebration of the sixth anniversary of the SHKVS was held in the building of the SHKVS.