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    CSTO IS BETTER PREPARED TO FACE FRESH THREATS THAN NATO

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    MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - Chairman of the committee for CIS affairs and ties with compatriots of the State Duma (lower house) Andrei Kokoshin believes that the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (or CSTO, which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) is better prepared for countering the threats of the 21st century than Nato. He said this at his meeting with Nato and Russian experts devoted to international security issues.

    In his words, Nato is loaded with the burden of the cold war years, and its large-scale bureaucracy is slow in turning towards the most burning issues of the international community.

    Kokoshin pointed out Nato's inefficiency citing the 1999 operation in Kosovo unauthorised by the UN and in violation of international law.

    "Russia and its CSTO allies are deeply concerned over the situation in Afghanistan where the US military rule has been transferred to Nato. Drug flows from Afghanistan grow incessantly," said Kokoshin.

    According to him, it is surprising that this is not yet high on Nato's agenda.

    Instead of modernising its structures, developing more actively the new forms and ways of combating threats to civilisation, Nato opted for the expansion and admitted new members, which aroused negative reaction in Russia and other CIS countries," said the parliamentarian.

    "The flights of Nato's AWACS reconnaissance aircraft and F-16 fighters along Russia's borders now that terrorism is increasing in southern Europe, Iran, Uzbekistan, and other parts of the world struck many politicians in CSTO countries as absurd," said Kokoshin.

    He believes that "Nato's expansion has contributed nothing to the efficiency of the alliance's fight against terrorism, drug mafia, proliferation of WMD and its delivery equipment." According to Kokoshin, this confirmed once again that the Russians who opposed Nato's eastward expansion were right.

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