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Ex-Soviet states practice military maneuvers on Caspian

Air force units from four former Soviet
republics staged war games near Russia’s Caspian coast on
Thursday, in which they were to rebuff an imaginary foe
using air defense systems designed to attack planes and
cruise missiles.

“The character of present-day armed conflicts is making
us pay special attention to air defense,” Russian Defense
Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters at the Ashuluk
military training ground in the Astrakhan region, the
Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies reported.

Thursday’s maneuvers were the third stage of the Combat
Alliance 2001 exercises, and involved Russia, Belarus,
Armenia and Tajikistan. The exercises, at a site about
1,200 kilometers (800 miles) southwest of Moscow, are held
under the aegis of the Commonwealth of Independent States,
a loose alliance of 12 former Soviet states.

Air forces from the four states were to use S-300 and
S-125 missile systems against imaginary enemies, the
Russian air force press service said. The allied forces
were to work together to stop the intrusion of jets and
tactical or cruise missiles into their common air space.

The defense ministers of the four countries and Georgia
were to observe the exercises, which were supervised by
Russian Air Force Commander Anatoly Kornukov.

During a training exercise in Ashuluk earlier this month,
a Russian S-300 surface-to-air rocket went off course and
exploded near a village in neighboring Kazakstan. No one
was hurt, but Kazak authorities later demanded that Russia
stop test firing live ammunition near its border.

The earlier stages of the exercises involved Russian and
Belarusian air forces, the Russian air force said. The
fourth and fifth stages will involve Kazak and Uzbek

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