MOSCOW, (AFP) - Nearly 1,000 soldiers from Russia, Armenia, Belarus and Tajikistan will take part in a joint military exercise at a Russian base on Thursday, a Russian defense ministry spokesman said Wednesday.
The maneuvers, called Defense Commonwealth 2001, will involve exercises on anti-aircraft defense and will be held at Achuluk base in the southern Russian region of Astrakhan, said the spokesman, Vyacheslav Sedov.
S-125 and S-300 anti-aircraft batteries and Su-27 and Su-25 fighters will be used during the drills.
"This exercise aims to improve anti-aircraft defense between members of the Commonwealth of Independent States," Sedov said.
The CIS is a loose association of all the former Soviet republics minus the three Baltic states. The Russian, Armenian, Belarus and Tajik defense ministers are
expected in Achuluk later Wednesday. Their countries are part of a joint security treaty, together with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
High-ranking defense officials from Georgia, Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine will also attend the maneuvers as observers.