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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Russia and NATO Hold Joint Anti-Missile Exercises in Moscow

Russia and NATO began a theatre anti-missile defence staff exercise in Moscow on Monday, the ITAR-TASS news agency reports.

“The regular stage of the joint staff non-strategic theatre anti-missile defence exercise is being conducted by means of computer modelling methods,” officials of the Information and Public Relations Department of the Russian Defence Ministry told the agency.

They said the exercise, which is being held in the Russian capital at the Fourth Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Defence Ministry, would last until October 26. “Its main purpose is to practice and improve the joint procedures of planning and coordinating the actions of the commanding structures of the anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence units of Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance,” the officials noted.

President Vladimir Putin had stated in October 2003 that Russia was prepared to cooperate “with all the countries of the world and with our partners, including on the rather sensitive matter, such, for instance, as the establishment of anti-missile defence systems”.

Commenting on the idea of joint theatre anti-missile exercises later in October, George Robertson, who was NATO Secretary-General at that time, stated that Russia and the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance were working on the “operative compatibility” of the theatre anti-missile defence systems to protect troops in the course of joint operations.

The current exercise, an official of the Russian Defence Ministry said that the drill “is being held in an enlarged format with the participation of representatives from seventeen countries-members of the NATO bloc”.

The Moscow theatre anti-missile exercise is the third one in the series of such joint undertakings, held by the Russia-NATO Council. The first staff exercise was held in two stages: in December 2003 on the basis of the NATO Consultations, Command and Control Agency in the Netherlands (The Hague), and in March 2004 —- on the U.S. “Schriever” air force base (Colorado Springs) at the Pentagon Joint National Integration Centre. The second staff exercise was held in March 2005 at the De Peel Royal Air Force Base of the Netherlands, the officials recalled.

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