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Russia-led post-Soviet bloc creates joint rapid action force

Vinay Shukla in Moscow | February 05, 2009 01:24 IST

A Russia-led security bloc of seven former Soviet republics approved the creation of a joint Rapid Action Force on Wednesday, for anti-terror operations and countering aggression on any member-state, identifying nuclear-armed Pakistan and volatile Afghanistan as main "external threats".
At their Kremlin summit, leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) -- comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia [Images], Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- signed an agreement for the creation of RAF under a joint command.
The joint forces under the integrated command will be used to counter military aggression, international terrorism, extremism, crime, drug-trafficking and deal with emergency situations, Kremlin foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko told media-persons in Moscow [Images].
Prikhodko said present joint forces in Central Asia, which includes 10 battalions and Russian airbase in Kant (Kyrgyzstan), will spearhead the CSTO RAF.
"This is because the main external threats to the security and stability of its member states, most of which are located in Central Asia, emanate from the South due to situation in Afghanistan and the conflict potential concentrated in Pakistan," Prikhodko said

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