CIS: Quantity, not quality

Agency WPS
May 26, 2004, Wednesday


SOURCE: Krasnaya Zvezda, May 22, 2004, p. 1

by Roman Streshnev

The latest meeting of CIS Council of Defense Ministers took place in
Yerevan under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Sergei Ivanov on
May 21.

Agenda of the meeting included over 20 issues ranging from
military-political to military to military-technical cooperation.
Special attention was paid to development and maintenance of combat
readiness of the CIS Untied Antiaircraft Defense System. Defense
ministers endorsed the Draft program of dealing with aerial forces
and means of the potential enemy. Among other things, the document
stipulates modernization and rearmament of antiaircraft defense
systems comprising the CIS Untied Antiaircraft Defense System.

Ministers also discussed the procedures and mechanisms of
implementation of the CIS Program of military-technical cooperation
and the plan of joint actions of tactical training in 2005. A large
joint exercise is to be run in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan this August.
Exercise West-Antiterror is to be run in Moldova in late June.
Counter-terrorism units of some CIS countries including Russia,
Ukraine, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan will participate in the exercise.

Participants of the meeting also discussed coordination of positions
in the struggle to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. Defense ministers touched upon activities of Collective
Peacekeeping Forces in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict area and
methods of peacekeeper unit training. Some important decisions were
made with regard to flights of combat aviation, establishment of a
common system of communications, better cooperation in the sphere of
weather forecasts. Some organizational and personnel matters were
discussed as well.

Ivanov attended several tete-a-tete meetings with his CIS opposite
numbers. Specifically, he met with Defense Minister of Armenia Serzh
Sarkisjan before the meeting of CIS defense ministers. The condition
and prospects of military and military-technical cooperation between
Russia and Armenia were discussed at the talks. To be more precise,
Ivanov and Sarkisjan discussed deliveries of Russian military
hardware to Armenia. Ivanov emphasized that Armenia as a member of
the Organization of the CIS Collective Security Treaty was welcome to
buy Russian military hardware at domestic prices. Yerevan already
bought two IL-76 transports from Russia at this price. The agreement
was made to continue the training of Armenian officers at military
educational establishments in Russia.

The ministers also discussed the prospects of establishment of a
joined regional army group in the southern directorate on the basis
of the 102nd Russian Military Base in Armenia. Ivanov said that there
were no plans to reinforce the 102nd base but that it would get some
modern weapons and military hardware. Ivanov announced that an
emphasis would be made on quality, not quantity. “We view the base
seriously and want the base, an element of the Russian Army Group in
the Caucasus, to be properly equipped and capable of regular combat
training,” Ivanov said. “Generally speaking, there are no problems
with our military cooperation or any problems around the 102nd base
in Armenia…” Sarkisjan in his turn said that official Yerevan was
not even thinking in terms of demanding withdrawal of the Russian
troops from the territory of Armenia.

Defense ministers of Russia and Armenia signed a protocol when the
talks were over.

Ivanov dwelt on a great deal of issues at the press conference
afterwards. He denounced the rumors that Moscow intended to close the
military base in Tajikistan and withdraw its contingent from the
country altogether. Neither would there be a hasty withdrawal from
Georgia, he said. “Time and considerable money is needed to settle
the personnel and military hardware withdrawn from Georgia in
Russia,” Ivanov said. The upcoming Russian-Georgian are supposed to
set the date of withdrawal of the Russian bases from Georgia and
their status. Ivanov also denounced the rumors on the joint use of
the Gabala radar installation in Azerbaijan by the Russian and
American military. Asked for comments on the Russia – NATO relations,
Ivanov replied, “Russia participates in exercises together with NATO
only when it is convinced that this participation is useful. Our
approach is selective. We promote our national interests first and