Helped by warplanes, helicopters and artillery, special forces from Russia and five other former Soviet republics simulated on Monday a joint operation against what their commanders called “irregular armed groups” on the third day of exercises held in Armenia.
The five-day exercises began on Saturday at a military training facility 40 kilometers west of Yerevan under the aegis of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The nearly 2,000 troops from Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan participating in them are part of the CSTO’s Collective Operational Reaction Forces (CORF) created in 2009. According to military officials in Yerevan, they are backed up by around 500 tanks, armored vehicles, artillery pieces and other military hardware.
“The creation of the CORF, currently numbering about 20,000 troops, was an important event, and the previous exercises showed that CORF troops have a good potential and represent a regional force that can neutralize potential threats,” Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said at the opening ceremony of the drills taking place at the Marshal Baghramian shooting ground.
According to a statement released by the CSTO press office, Russian and Belarusian forces were parachuted to the ground on Monday to simulate an attack on invading “irregular armed groups.” They struck the imaginary enemy with the help of Kazakh commandos and heavy fire from multiple-launch rocket systems, attack helicopters and military aircraft.
“Detachments of a special forces brigade of the Armenian armed forces, which are part of the CORF, surrounded ‘the enemy’ and completed the rout, pushing the remaining [enemy fighters] out of the state border,” said the statement.
Under the scenario of the war games, some of the “terrorists” took scores of hostages in a nearby village. The civilians were liberated in a joint operation conducted by anti-terror squads of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) and the Russian Interior Ministry as well as Kazakh and Kyrgyz commandos.
The CSTO statement added that the exercise demonstrated a “high degree of coordination among CORF contingents.” A separate statement issued by the Armenian Defense Ministry also praised the joint training.