Kazakhs Sign Up to Moscow-Backed Force

From the AP: Kazakhstan ratified an accord Wednesday committing it to a NATO-style rapid-reaction force drawn from the armies of former Soviet nations, the Kazakh presidential press office said in a statement.

The force will operate under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-backed military bloc that also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as members.

Uzbekistan now remains the only organization member not to sign the rapid reaction force agreement. Uzbekistan, which regards itself as Central Asia’s main military power broker, has traditionally been wary of Moscow’s attempts to dominate security in the region…

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the leaders of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan finalized the creation of the rapid-reaction force in June. Belarus resisted joining for several months amid a trade dispute with Russia, but eventually relented.

More than 7,000 troops from five Collective Security Treaty Organization member countries assembled at a training ground in southern Kazakhstan in October for the force’s first large-scale exercises. (photo: RIA Novosti)

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