CSTO to Hold Regular War Games in ‘Frozen Conflict’ Zones

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)–The Russian led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is to hold large-scale military exercises every two years, including those in the hot spot region of Caucasus, a senior official said on Saturday.

“The participants of a meeting of the CSTO defense ministers decided to hold large-scale exercises every two years. Thus, the next exercises will take place in 2010," Interfax news agency quoted CSTO Deputy Secretary General Valery Semerikov as saying.

Those war games will be held with the situation in the region to be taken into consideration, including the Caucasus, he said.

The CSTO defense ministers met on Thursday in the Armenian capital of Yerevan to discuss the military and political situation in the region, the military cooperation of the member states, as well as their foreign and defense policies.

In remarks to visiting senior defense officials from the former Soviet Republics making up the CSTO, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian pointed to the current debacle in Georgia as a deterrent for Azerbaijan to continue its attempts at resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by force.

Sarkisian said that Armenia has repeatedly raised the alarm over “some regional countries” embarking on an “unprecedented” military build-up to prevail in territorial disputes with their neighbors.

“We believe that the military way of resolving conflicts is futile and that the events in South Ossetia will have a sobering impact on those who still have illusions about forcible solutions,” he said.

Sarkisian for the first time publicly drew parallels between the conflicts in Karabakh and South Ossetia and criticized Georgia for its August 8 military assault on the breakaway territory, which triggered a harsh Russian retaliation. “The tragic events in South Ossetia showed that a military response to self-determination movemen’s in the South Caucasus are fraught with serious military and geopolitical consequences,” he said.

They also underscored the need to settle regional ethnic conflicts on the basis of the principle of nations’ self-determination, added Sarkisian.

The Russia-led bloc has held four-stage military exercises in Russia and the Caucasus state of Armenia in July and August, involving about 4,000 troops from Armenia, Russia and Tajikistan. Military staff from the other CSTO member states also joined the exercises.

The seven-member organization was renamed in October 2002 on the basis of the Collective Security Treaty, which was signed in Mary 1992 within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The current members of the CSTO include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia and Uzbekistan.

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