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    RUSSIA, KAZAKHSTAN TO PROVIDE TEST RANGES FOR EACH OTHER

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    ASTANA, March 18, 2004. /RIA Novosti/. Kazakhstan has ratified the intergovernmental Kazakh-Russian agreement on the procedure for the mutual provision of test ranges for holding combat shootings by the formations and units of the air defense forces of the Kazakh armed forces and the Russian air force.

    "The aim of the agreement is upgrading cooperation, raising the level of the combat readiness of the two countries' armies", the Kazakh vice-minister of defense, Abai Tasbulatov, told a plenary meeting of the Senate (the upper house of the republic's parliament) on Thursday.

    In his words, the agreement regulates the procedure for the delivery and provision of arms and equipment, as well as targets for the organization of combat shootings, the withdrawal of the used means of destruction and the observance of safety measures on a test range.

    Under the agreement, "the training center on the Saryshagan test range (Karaganda region, North Kazakhstan) will be provided for the Russian side, while the Ashuluk test range (Astrakhan region, the lower reaches of the Volga) will be provided by Russia for Kazakhstan, explained Tasbulatov.

    "Either test range has unique technical characteristics with the possibility of shooting from practically all types of existing anti-aircraft-missile complexes," stressed the vice-minister. However, in his words, "in the future, as the infrastructure of our Saryshagan test range will develop, the need to use the Ashuluk test range will be obviated".

    The agreement has been submitted to Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev for signing.

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