Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Russia, NATO countries conducting combined exercise

The Kaliningrad 2004 international exercises will be launched by the Russia-NATO Council in the town of Svetlogorsk of the Kaliningrad region (Russia's westernmost exclave) on Tuesday.

"The exercises will last from June 22 to June 25 on a section of the Baltic Sea coast and at sea. Units involved will have to deal with the aftermath of a fire at an off shore oil platform and an oil spill," reported the Russian Emergencies Ministry's information department.

Observers from 22 countries across the world are expected to monitor the exercises. Rescuers from Lithuania and Poland specialising in containing oil spills will take part in them. An overall of 1,000 men are expected to arrive in Svetlogorsk for the exercises.

Russia will send its experts from the Tsentrospas airmobile rescue unit, the Leader centre for high risk rescue operations, the Gosakvaspas unit and the Emergencies Ministry's aircraft. In addition, vessels and coastal guards of the Russian Baltic Fleet, Transport Ministry units, experts of a series of companies, LUKoil oil major being one of them, will also be engaged in the exercises.

Colonel General Gennady Korotkin, Russia's Deputy Emergencies Minister, will command the exercise. Carsten Fousboll, NATO Civil Emergency Planning Department Director, has been appointed deputy commander of the exercises.

The practical exercises will be conducted on the Baltic Fleet's Khmelevka shooting range. They are designed to train interaction with Lithuanian and Polish rescuers and to demonstrate the latest search and evacuation techniques, the techniques of extinguishing fires from air and at sea, of liquidating oil spills, protecting and clearing out oil covered coasts.

Ka-32 and Mi-8 Emergencies Ministry helicopters and a fire boat will be engaged in putting out fires in the area of the off shore oil platform. The copters will be fitted out with water pouring equipment. Russia will demonstrate its Be-200ChS amphibious aircraft, airdrop rescuers on the sea and coast. An Il-76 plane will drop a mobile hospital on special platforms and medical personnel.

"The basic goal of the exercises is to improve joint crises management action and command, which includes making inquiries and providing international aid in the event of terrorist attacks on off shore oil platforms in the Baltics that may take a heavy casualty toll and cause an environment catastrophe," said an Emergencies Ministry official.