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Russia’s leadership intends to strengthen its positions in the defence sector in the post-Soviet space the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily writes that at the Ashgabat Summit of the CIS Heads of State, held in the capital of Turkmenistan on Thursday, several documents on military issues were signed. The Summit adopted a decision on the advanced development of the United Air Defence System of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the appointment of RF Deputy Defence Minister, Colonel-General Oleg Ostapenko as new Chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Air Defence.
The United Air Defence system was created in 1995, the newspaper recalls. Then it included 10 countries – Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. At present, however, not all of them jointly fulfil tasks aimed at the Commonwealth air defence. Although, the CIS United Air Defence to this day to a certain degree and still to some extent remains a capable military body. According to official data, the CIS United Air Defence system of consists of 20 air regiments (military bases), 29 anti-aircraft missile regiments, 22 electronic technical units, two Russian electronic warfare battalions. The forces are considerable. They jointly perform the combat alert mission, regularly, at least twice a year, conduct drills and exercises at which they practice joint fulfilment of tasks aimed at the defence of the CIS air borders.
However, it turns out that Moscow has initiated the further qualitative development of the United Air Defence system. Sources of Nezavisimaya Gazeta in the RF Defence Ministry claim that at the closed part of the Ashgabat Summit many CIS heads of state supported Moscow’s proposal to integrate in the system also units of the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces that were established a year ago. The appointment of a military leader in the rank of RF Deputy Defence Minister (before the appointment Oleg Ostapenko was Aerospace Defence Forces commander) as Chairman of the Coordinating Committee on Air Defence is linked with this. It is planned that “Moscow’s new initiatives will raise the effectiveness of the CIS air defence, as they will meet the latest international trends in the development of weapons and means of warfare, countering military threats from space, settlement of missile defence problems.” This, apparently, will be a kind of response to NATO and US plans to deploy a European missile defence system, as well as a demonstration of the fact that Moscow in the post-Soviet space can fend off threats in the aerospace defence sphere.
At the same time, Russia intends to improve air defence within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Force, Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov said recently at a meeting with military attaches in Moscow that “the very structure of the CSTO troops will be improved: both the collective forces and also it is planned to create in the future an integrated air defence and missile defence system.” It is not clear so far what will be the difference between the United Air Defence – CSTO missile defence system and a similar system established on a broader basis within the Commonwealth, but it seems that there are many problems here.