Defense ministers or their deputies from all CIS member countries except Moldova held a regular meeting chaired by Russia’s Pavel Grachev in Moscow on November 2. Grachev admitted that there was not enough support for creating a Committee of Chiefs of Staff of the CIS countries’ armies and deferred discussion on the proposal until next year. Nine countries approved assistance for Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to create, and for Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan to improve, their air defense systems as components of the CIS common air defense. The meeting also struck a blow for Grachev by resolving that equipment orders for those countries’ air defenses will be placed directly with Russia’s Defense Ministry, bypassing Russia’s State Committee for the arms industry (Rosvooruzhenie). In a follow-up action, the chief of the CIS military cooperation staff, Russia’s Col. General Viktor Samsonov, called for restoring the indivisibility of the former USSR’s air defense system by including all the former republics, in the first place Azerbaijan. Samsonov gave assurances that Russia would bear the brunt of expenditures for repairs, new equipment, and personnel training. (15)
The CIS air defense system includes Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus in addition to the six countries to be assisted. Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan are not part of that system, but at least the first two are under pressure to join. On the eve of the Moscow meeting, a Russian Defense Ministry specialist had told Interfax that Russia’s own air defense system was mostly equipped with worn-out systems 20 years old, and that the repair of old and production of new systems had practically come to a standstill for lack of funds.