Vladimir Putin Meets In Kremlin With Commonwealth Of Independent States' Defense Ministers

The Commonwealth of Independent States "has played a serious stabilising role in spite of certain growing pains", said Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Wednesday, opening up a meeting with the CIS defense ministers. "By a pooled effort we have managed to create conditions for the establisment and development of our countries, avoid new negative and even tragic events", said the Russian president. To him, "the military-political component of cooperation has had its positive effect". "We have preserved the mechanisms of coordinating the military policy and military development, which in itself is a serious achievement", said Putin. "The defense ministers and the chiefs of main staffs have had enough strategic feeling, the leaders of the CIS countries have had enough political will", he noted. "Possibly only now that an outcome of the struggle against terrorism largely depends on the military factor can we duly estimate the correctness of these steps and the advantages of our military cooperation", continued the head of state. "Despite the growing pains we managed to switch to a qualitatively new integration in the military sphere. From a once single military machine we have switched to cooperation in the buildup of the national armed forces. All together, we have managed to shape a system of interaction between them", said the president. He said a special role in this is played by the Council of the Commonwealth Defense Ministers. In addition, a solid legal base has been created, a lot of treaties have been concluded. Simultaneously, the president emphasized that the creation of new structures and apparatuses "is not a goal in itself" -- over 70 of them have already been formed. "I think that the tragic events of September 11 make us once again to analyse the degree of readiness of all organs of the Commonwealth, assess the real value of all our agreements, the correctness of the priorities set", stressed the head of state. We have already tested out forms and methods of combined actions against bandit formations, he said. The annual joint military exercises have proved it, noted the president. The exercise Commonwealth Southern Shield has been a success, he said. A next step in the joint antiterrorist work is "the ensurance of a clear-cut coordination between the Defense Ministers' Council, the antiterrorist center and the Council of Chiefs of the CIS Security and Secret Services", believes the Russian head of state.