CSTO Rubezh 2008 exercise kicks off in Armenia

Today I had the pleasant surprise of seeing what appeared to be several Russian air force Mig-29s conducting aerial maneuvers between the air space over Yerevan and the Armenian-Turkish border. I think it is fair to assume that the aircraft in question were participating in the joint Russian-Armenian-Tajik military exercises called Rubezh 2008 which is currently under way in the Armenian Republic.

Arevordi


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CSTO Rubezh 2008 exercise kicks off in Armenia



July, 2008

Rubezh 2008 exercise kicked off in Armenia today with participation of some 4 thousand servicemen from Armenia, Russia and Tajikistan. “The two initial stages will be political, with a goal to alleviate tensions in the region,” said Nikolay Bordyuzha, Secretary General of the Collectibe Security Treaty Organization. For his part, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan the exercise has a strategic importance for maintenance of regional and international stability. “During the maneuvers, united force will synchronize operations in local wars and armed conflicts. Joining our efforts, we can resist challenges,” the Minister said. The CSTO includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Armenia is currently holding chairmanship in the organization.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=26687


First stage of CSTO command-staff exercise begins in Armenia


The first stage of the joint complex command-staff exercise Rubezh (Border) - 2008 of the member-countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) began in Armenia on Tuesday. “The first and second phases of the exercise are political ones, during which a situation will be modelled to outline the steps of the CSTO member-countries and the organisation on the whole in order to alleviate tensions fanned up in the collective security region as a result of the actions undertaken by the destructive third forces, and the political settlement of the conflict will be practiced,” the press service of the CSTO Secretariat told Itar-Tass. “The first and second stages for the CSTO Secretariat as a political body of the organisation are more interesting than the next stages, at which only military actions are planned,” CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha believes. According to the CSTO Secretariat, Bordyuzha will attend personally the first stage of the exercise on Tuesday. The exercise Border-2008 is held under the decision taken by the CSTO supreme body – the Collective Security Council. The exercise will be held in four phases in Armenia and Russia. During the first and second stages a procedure of drafting some proposals to the Collective Security Council in order to give military and military-technical assistance to a CSTO country, which was attacked. The second stage of the exercise will be held in Russia at the CSTO joint headquarters. At the third stage the CSTO states will train a military operation for the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the ‘attacked’ country. The fourth stage envisages a defense operation. The exercise will have a purely anti-terrorist and command-staff thrust, “so, no major troop transfers are planned,” Bordyuzha told reporters earlier. The CSTO brings together Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Source: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2....8672&PageNum=0

In related news:


Russian Armenians Heed Presidential Appeal for Investment



$290 million pledged since Tuesday


Less than a week after President Serzh Sarkisian made his appeal to Armenians around the world to invest in their homeland, Russian Armenian businessmen have pledged almost $300 million in social and economic investments to the Republic of Armenia. The pledges, totaling $290 million, came in response to the President's speech at the "Baze" All Armenian Youth Jamboree. During the jamboree, Sarkisian had issued a call to action for Armenians to become more active in the development of the republic. "[Armenians] must be more active and initiating in the efforts directed towards building, improving and flourishing the homeland," he said. In separate letters responding to President Sarkisian's appeal, Samvel Karapeatian, Sergey Hambardzumian, and Gagik Zakarian pledged to invest in various sectors of Armenia's society and economy. "With great attention and excitement I heard your address to our compatriots at the "Baze" youth gathering," Karapetian's letter said. "Armenia is our homeland and despite the geographic distance a part of our soul and heart is always in the homeland and lives with the pain and concerns of our country, our brothers and sisters, lives with our soil and water." Karapetian on Wednesday promised to allocate $250 million for various social and business projects in Armenia and invest another $50 million for the "implementation of symbolic projects that will support Armenian statehood and serve its future generations." Meanwhile, Hambardzumian, who is the founder and chairman of the board of directors of the "Mon Ar" company, pledged on Thursday to donate $10 million to the development and expansion of the Matenadaran Manuscript complex. "Irrespective of anyone's financial capabilities our only wealth is our homeland and our only pride--our roots, and we all will be rich when we see our country flourishing," Hambardzumian said. Zakarian, whose letter of commitment to Sarkisian came Friday, pledged to invest $30 million in Armenia's mining, insurance and real estate industries. Zakarian is the chairman of Russia's "Yuniastrum" bank. "With this letter I want to convince you in our readiness to contribute and participate in the development of our homeland," Zakarian said. The pledges to invest almost $300 million in the Armenian Republic come as $236.5 million in US Millennium Challenge Corporation funding has been partially frozen by Washington in what appears to be a politically motivated delay aimed at pressuring the Armenian government.

Source: http://armenie.prikpagina.nl/read.ph...&i=2026&t=2008


The Armenian-Russian relations are on a high level, according to RA President.


The forthcoming visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will promote development of Armenian-Russian cooperation. We enjoy relations that can be exemplary for all. Unanimous position on plenty of issues makes our cooperation within international organizations more efficient,” Serzh Sargsyan said.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=26680

Armenia is Russia’s most important ally in South Caucasus

“However, relations between Armenia and Russia are quite different. Moscow and Yerevan are political and military allies,” Mikhail Alexandrov, head of the Caucasus department at Moscow’s Institute for Commonwealth of Independent States, said when commenting on Declaration on Cooperation signed during Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Baku. For his part, deputy director of the Institute Vladimir Yegorov said that Armenia is Russia’s most important ally in the South Caucasus. He also informed that the Institute will hold an international conference on Caucasus problems in Yerevan in October.

Source:http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=26628


FM: Armenia not planning to join NATO


Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandian said the south Caucasus state is not seeking to join NATO, but will enhance cooperation with the alliance, reports reaching here said on Sunday. ""NATO membership does not rank among Armenia's foreign-policy goals, but Armenia is cooperating intensively with the alliance,"" Interfax quoted Nalbandian as saying at a joint news conference with his Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. NATO and Armenia have recently completed a ""positive"" two-year cooperation program, he said, noting a new two-year cooperation program is underway. Russia has repeatedly warned against NATO's eastward expansion, expressing concerns over the bid for the alliance's membership by former Soviet republics, such as Georgia and Ukraine.

Source: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=172679


Russia and Kazakhstan to hold joint war games in 2009-2011


Russia and Kazakhstan will hold joint military exercises in 2009-2011, the two countries' defense ministers announced in Moscow on Monday. Anatoly Serdyukov and Danial Akhmetov ordered their respective offices to draft the details of the joint drills, including the timeframe, locations and forces to be involved. The military exercises will be held on the territories of both states. The two ministers said that joint tactical drills to be held this autumn as part of Center-2008 staff exercises in the Chelyabinsk Region in the Urals, ""will contribute to the further development of a united outlook and approach to the planning of joint actions to maintain the national security of the two countries."" Serdyukov and Akhmetov, who is currently on a two-day trip to Moscow, also praised the military skills displayed by around 2,000 Russian and Kazakh paratroopers who took part in a joint counterinsurgency tactical exercise last Friday. A Kazakh Defense Ministry spokesman said earlier that the 2008 Kazakh-Russian military cooperation program included a series of joint operational and combat training activities. Russia, which is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), has been strengthening military ties with its allies amid growing tensions over NATO expansion and U.S. missile shield plans for Central Europe. An agreement was recently signed by Washington and Prague on deploying a U.S. radar in the Czech Republic, a move that did little to assuage Russian concerns for its national security. The CSTO is a post-Soviet security alliance, which also comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. About 4,000 troops from Armenia, Russia, and Tajikistan will take part in the four-stage Rubezh-2008 military exercises in Armenia and Russia this summer.

Source: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=173280


Russia, Armenia Agree On New Gas Price


Russia’s Gazprom giant and the Armenian government have reached agreement on the new price of Russian natural gas for Armenia set to rise considerably next year, officials in Moscow and Yerevan said on Tuesday. But they would not specify the price hike, saying only that it will not be as sharp as many in Armenia feared. Gazprom already nearly doubled the price of its gas to $110 per thousand cubic meters more than two years ago. However, its cost for Armenian corporate and individual consumers remained virtually unchanged until last May due to a controversial April 2006 agreement that left more Armenian energy assets under Russian ownership. In particular, Gazprom solidified its controlling stake in Armenia’s ARG gas distribution network and paid $249 million for an incomplete but modern thermal-power plant located in the central town of Hrazdan. The Armenian government used the money for subsidizing the domestic gas prices. It ended the subsidies on May 1, triggering a 50 percent surge in the retail prices of gas supplied to Armenian households and business entities. Gazprom announced shortly afterwards that by 2011 Armenia will have to pay for Russian gas at world prices that are currently above $200 per thousand cubic meters. Armenian officials have since been scrambling to minimize the price hike. The issue was high on the agenda of President Serzh Sarkisian’s late May visit to Moscow. The ARG chief executive, Karen Karapetian, visited the Russian capital and met Gazprom’s chairman, Alexei Miller, for the same purpose on Monday. A spokesman for the Russian gas monopoly, Sergei Kuprianov, told RFE/RL that the two men agreed on the new price but refused to disclose it. Kuprianov said only that Gazprom “took into account the allied Russian-Armenian relationship” when deciding how much to charge Armenia in 2009. Karapetian confirmed the information as he spoke to RFE/RL in Yerevan. “There will be a price rise but it will be very pleasant for everyone,” he said, adding that Russian gas will remain “very affordable” for Armenians in the coming years. He did not elaborate. Natural gas is the number one source of winter heating for Armenia’s population. It is also widely used, in liquefied and pressurized forms, by public transportation means and personal cars.

Source: http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeni...A81771B137.ASP

Geopolitics and Terrorism in North Caucasus

Transcaucasia (South Caucasus) is a major conflict zone in the post-Soviet space. Russia's inaction in the Caucasus, especially in the 1900ies, left a vacuum of influence in the region, and the void was promptly filled by the West. The US established a strategic foothold in Georgia, and the same can be expected to happen in Azerbaijan. Efforts are being made continuously to alter the geopolitical orientation of Armenia. Under the circumstances, the unrecognized Republics - Abkhazia, Karabakh, and South Ossetia - became Russia's natural allies. Georgia led by Saakashvili escalates the tensions in the zones of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts in line with the policy pursued by Washington. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated on July 9 that the situation has deteriorated considerably.

If NATO Membership Action Plans are enacted by Georgia and Ukraine in December, 2008, Russia will find itself in an even more difficult situation in North Caucasus. The move will ensure the strategic containment of Russia in the southern direction, and the transfer of conflicts from South to North Caucasus will substantially weaken Russia's geopolitical potential. North Caucasus is the most vulnerable of Russian territories watched closely by Russia's geopolitical rivals. It is particularly alarming that the Russian political and academic communities tend to underestimate the chances of a new war in the Caucasus. The situation in the region is complicated due to a range of conflictogenic factors of socioeconomic, political, demographic, migration-related, ethnic, and religious nature. Exterior forces exploit the ongoing conflicts and fuel them in their own interests. Various NGOs, foundations, research centers, and agencies dispensing "humanitarian" grants function as a multi-level monitoring network which, at a certain moment, can be used to instigate an outbreak of rapidly intensifying controlled chaos. Centers of radical Islam, which in many cases are controlled from abroad, and illegal ethnic armed formations serve the same purpose.

The Russian federal center does not have a sufficiently firm grip on North Caucasus as demonstrated by the seasonal surge of the activity of illegal armed formations in the region in 2008. The situation is particularly insecure in Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, and, less so, in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic. Terrorist acts are committed frequently in both urban areas and remote mountainous regions where the presence of the authority is hardly felt at all. Even though, as FSB Director A. Bortnikov said at the July 3 meeting of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, the activity of 80 leaders and active members of illegal armed formations was terminated, over 30 terrorist acts were prevented, and 130 explosive devices, some 900 kg of explosives, and 600 firearms have been confiscated in 2008, the Southern Federal District remains the epicenter of terrorist activity. At least 80% of terrorism-related crimes committed in Russia are perpetrated in the region. Attacks on servicemen of law-enforcement agencies continue and civilians are also killed in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan. The FSB Director said that bandits seek to escalate the situation and to demonstrate their potential to their foreign sponsors. He admitted that terrorist organizations succeed in recruiting new members, mainly young people influenced by the propaganda of religious and political extremism. Our survey of the terrorist acts in June-July, 2008 confirms the conclusions drawn by the FSB Director.

Dagestan

Unknown gunmen opened fire on the army train security in Khasavyurt on June 2, killing one serviceman and injuring another. Three members of an illegal armed formation were killed in Dagestan during a security sweep on June 7. One of those killed was Movsar Sharipov, a 16-year-old wrestling champion of the south of Russia who had no criminal record and was not known to have ties with illegal armed formations. His parents were shocked when they learned that their son had been a member of the gang of Salman Makhtiev, which operated in the Khasavyurt region. In Makhachkala, the Supreme Court of Dagestan sentenced Zalimkhan Musaev, a local resident, to 14 years in a high security prison. Last year he organized a criminal group of three teenagers with the purpose of killing local policemen. The juvenile criminals assassinated two high-ranking police officers in October, 2007. The members of the group were blocked and killed when they put up resistance. Head of the city police department M. Aliev was shot point-blank and killed in his car in downtown Buynaksk on June 23. Earlier, a traffic police patrol came under automatic gunfire near the city of Dagestanskie Ogni. Terrorists made an attempt to blow up the vehicle of the 102th Interior Troops Brigade carrying servicemen on a highway linking Gubden and Urma. A police sergeant and a local resident were killed when fire was opened on a checkpoint in the Suleiman-Stal district. The counter-terrorist operation regime was declared in the city of Khasavyurt and the Khasavyurt region on July 7. A group of 11 individuals suspected of terrorism and attacks on servicemen of law-enforcement agencies were arrested, an illegal explosives factory was found, and 16 bombs, 4 RPG-26 grenade launchers, 9 RPG-7 grenades, 11 firearms, 22 grenades, and over 5,000 rounds of ammunition were confiscated as a result of the operation.

Chechnya

Attacks on federal forces continue in the region. On June 2, an army copter came under fire and a soldier was injured when a group of servicemen was landing in the Vedeno district. Guerillas blew up an armored personnel carrier and opened fire on a border guard convoy killing three soldiers and injuring five. On June 6, Head of Sunzha Police Department Shamil Kutsaev was injured and police major Idriz Abdullev was killed in Chechnya. Ten people, six of them policemen, were injured by a blast in a cafe in Grozny. In June, guerillas temporarily seized the Benoy-Vedeno village in the Nozhay-Yurtovsky district. Four special forces officers were killed between the Dargo and Zhani-Vedeno villages on a mission in the mountains of the Vedeno district while searching for a gang responsible for assassinations of policemen.

Ingushetia

A police officer was injured when fire was opened on a checkpoint in the Malgobek district of Ingushetia. On June 2, unknown gunmen fired on a police checkpoint in the Nazran district. Police captain Rustam Azhigov and his relative Islam Pugoev came under fire in a car on June 16. It was a fifth attack on police officers in 24 hours. On June 19, machine guns and grenade launchers fired on the residence of the Kursaev brothers who worked for the police department and narcotics control service of the Nazran district. The residence of a police officer also came under machinegun and grenade fire in Karabulak early in the morning on June 5. A series of audacious attacks were reported on June 5-6. Guerillas burned down the residence of Vice Prime Minister B. Aushev responsible for the law enforcement agencies in the Republic, fired on two police convoys, and shot dead the head of a department of the Republic's Administration for Combating Organized Crime. Most of the attacks took place in broad daylight. Two local policemen and two federal servicemen were killed and four police officers were injured as a result. On July 8, an armed group attacked the Muzhichi village and a checkpoint of the Internal Troops located on the outskirts of the Nesterovskaya village. A policeman, a rural high school military training teacher, and a former police officer were killed by the guerillas. After the attack, the bandits also opened fire on the police checkpoint near the Nesterovskaya village.

The Kabardino-Balkar Republic

In June, unknown gunmen attacked the apartment with three policemen, a narcotics control police officer, and two local residents in the Elbrus region, injuring all the people. On July 7, also in the Elbrus region, two traffic police officers were injured by a blast which destroyed their car at the parking lot of the Cheget hotel. On June 4, an attempt was made to blow up a police car near the Elbrus village. Three attacks on officers of law enforcement agencies were reported in June. Early in the morning on July 8, three policemen were killed during an attack on a police patrol. The attack was launched by Aslan Karatsukov (age: 34) and Auladin Bakaev (age: 31) from the Dugulubgey village and Ramazan Bairami (age: 25) from the Psychokh village. All the three were under police surveillance as Wahhabis. A guerilla killed by the police on the outskirts of Nalchik - Boris Zholabov from Tyrnauz (age: 23) - was also a member of the Yarmuk, a Wahhabi Jamaat.

The Karachay-Cherkess Republic

Murat Akbaev, a businessman and a member of the Republic's parliament and the younger brother of one of the 16 people sentenced for involvement in the notorious murder of 7 residents of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, was killed in Cherkessk on June 1. The seven men, including parliamentarian R. Bogatyrev, were murdered in 2004 at the countyhouse owned by parliamentarian A. Kaitov.

Conclusions

The forces of the religious and political extremism in Russia's North Caucasus have not been routed. Illegal armed formations continue to launch serious attacks and to destabilize the situation in the region. So far, the law enforcement agencies' efforts to suppress the activity of terrorist groups have not yielded the desired result. Police measures alone cannot remedy the situation which has profound socioeconomic roots. An improvement can be achieved only by eliminating fundamental causes of conflicts such as widespread corruption, and by the reintegration of the younger people into a healthier socioeconomic environment. Only this approach - and nothing else - can substantially reduce the influence of exterior forces in North Caucasus.

Source: http://www.iras.ir/English/Default_v...rth%20Caucasus

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