CSTO Defense Ministers Meet in Armenia

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Defense ministers from the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) member states have agreed to hold joint Rubezh command-and-staff exercises every two years, Russia’s defense minister said on Friday following a CSTO summit in Yerevan.

Anatoly Serdyukov said that the exercises would be held in turn in each of the organization’s member states. "I believe this will provide a real opportunity to increase the combat readiness of individual armed forces and strengthen the collective security of the organization.”

Rubezh-2008 was held in Armenia with about 4,000 troops from Armenia, Russia and Tajikistan took part in the four-stage military exercises, which started on July 22 and ended on August 22.

The CSTO is a security grouping comprising the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Armenia currently holds the rotating presidency of the Russian led defense alliance.

The defense ministers also discussed the details of a Russian backed “common anti-aircraft defense system.”

According to CSTO Secretary General, Nikolay Bordyuzha, the defense alliance’s member states approved the defense system following “high level consultations” on a new security agreement in Europe. All of Russia’s partners have “approved the idea and agree to work together to develop it,” he said.

The military-political situation in the region calls for a serious coordination of efforts and an increased level of cooperation, according to President Serzh Sarkisian, who added that he intends on discussing those very issues with his counterparts during a meeting of CSTO heads of state expected in December.

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