CSTO leaders agree on rapid reaction forces
Leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) signed an agreement to establish joint rapid reaction forces on Sunday, news agencies reported.
"The document that has been signed includes an agreement on collective forces and a decision by the Collective Security Council on the rapid-reaction force structure," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying.
The new forces will consist of large military units from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, RIA Novosti said.
Those military units will be armed with modern compatible weapons and military hardware, said the Itar-Tass news agency.
The document also includes a number of action plans for the CSTO members for the period until 2012.
The forces, which Medvedev said "will be just as good as comparable NATO forces," are expected to counter such threats as military aggression, terrorist activities, trans-border crimes and drug trafficking.
Two CSTO member states, Belarus and Uzbekistan, did not sign the document, since Uzbekistan "has some doubts" and Belarus "does not attend this summit," the Itar-Tass quoted Medvedev as saying.
Yet Medvedev believed the two countries will eventually sign the agreement.
The CSTO rotating presidency, originally to be assumed by Belarus, has been passed over to Russia temporarily, he said.
Earlier in the day, Belarus said its delegations would not attend the CSTO meeting since Russia has banned almost all imports of dairy products from Belarus.
The CSTO, a security group comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, agreed in early February to form rapid reaction forces.