CIS Countries to Hold Joint Air Defense Drills

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (Combined Sources)–Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will conduct joint air defense exercises from August 7 until September 18, a top Russian military official said Wednesday.

"The biennial Combat Commonwealth exercises will be held from August 7 until September 18," the first deputy commander of Russia’s Air Force, Vadim Volkovidsky, told a press conference following a meeting of the CIS air defense coordinating committee.

He specified that the exercises would be held in several stages and on the territory of each member state.

The CSTO, which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, is scheduled to create three regional air defense networks in Belarus, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Russia and Armenia agreed in February to create an integrated air defense network as part of a far-reaching plan to build a joint air defense system stretching from NATO’s borders to China. The announcement came after plans to build a similar Russian-Belarusian air defenses system were revealed earlier that month.

An integrated air defense network was nominally established by 10 CIS member countries on February 10, 1995. The main purpose of the network is to ensure the protection of the member-countries’ airspace, early warning of missile attacks and coordination of joint efforts to neutralize potential air threats.

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