MOSCOW, December 4 (RIA Novosti) - The Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-led military alliance of six former Soviet republics, plans to build an integrated air and missile defense system, the chief of the Russian military’s General Staff said on Tuesday.
“The structure of the CSTO troops will be upgraded and an integrated air defense/missile defense system will be built,” Col. Gen. Valery Gerasimov said during a meeting with foreign military attachés in Moscow.
The CSTO's current members are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Gerasimov provided no timeframe for the project, only saying that a “CSTO military committee” is to be set up before the end of the year.
Moscow has been irked by US plans to deploy missile defense elements in Europe. NATO and the United States insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia.
Russia proposed a joint missile defense system, an idea that many experts both at home and abroad dismiss as unviable and unrealistic.
Then it demanded “legally binding guarantees” that US/NATO missiles would not be targeted at Russia. Since Moscow’s proposal received a lukewarm response in the West, it has been warning of unspecified low-cost “asymmetric measures” to counter the future Western missile defense system.
Nikolai Makarov, Gerasimov’s predecessor, has famously said Russia does not rule out a preemptive strike against a NATO missile defense system in Europe as a last resort.
Last year, then-President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans to deploy Iskander missiles in Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad Region to counter the threat posed by the US system.