Yury Baluyevsky addressed the chiefs of the General Staffs of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine ahead of the 15th anniversary of the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose union of 11 former Soviet republics dominated by Russia.
"The geopolitical position of the CIS brought us to the forefront in the fight against terrorism, cross-border crime and the drug mafia," said Baluyevsky, who is also Russia's first deputy defense minister. He also called for cooperation between CIS defense enterprises.
Baluyevsky said that CIS nations have already developed common air defense and communications systems, and were continuing to work on other joint defense systems.
"It will enable us to make our spending more efficient and will increase our security potential in the face of modern threats," he said.
Representatives from Georgia, Moldova and Turkmenistan were not present at the meeting.
Turkmenistan has an associated member status in the CIS alliance, and Moldova and Georgia, which have been involved in a political standoff with Russia, have considered pulling out from the union.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.