MOSCOW (RIA Novosti)–The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will conduct joint military exercises in August-September in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, the Belarusian defense minister said on Wednesday.
The defense ministers of the post-Soviet security bloc comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan held a regular meeting in Moscow on June 3.
“The joint drills will be held in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus to practice the deployment of CSTO’s joint rapid-reaction force,” Leonid Maltsev told reporters after the meeting.
He said the exercises in Belarus will also involve the Russia-Belarus joint military grouping created within the framework of the CSTO.
Russia is planning on building a strong military contingent in Central Asia through the CSTO comparable to NATO forces in Europe.
The new force will comprise large military units from five countries–Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Russia already has joint military contingents with Belarus and Armenia as part of their cooperation with the CSTO. The three countries earlier this year announced they would join to create an integrated air defense network as part of a plan to create a joint CSTO air defense system stretching from NATO’s borders to China.