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    NO AGGRESSION THREATENS RUSSIA

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    MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti)-In an interview with Izvestia, General Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of the Russian Armed Forces' General Staff, says there is no direct threat of an aggression against Russia today.

    The general says that today, as Russia is moving toward a democratic society, as its main aim is to improve the population's prosperity, the Russian army has a unique opportunity to straighten its back. The state's economic potential makes this possible.

    Therefore, modernizing the army is a priority for the Armed Forces. "For the last five years we have aimed to create arms and hardware that is not simply of the next generation, but the generation after that," the general says. "And we have done so."

    General Baluyevsky is disappointed that intra-CIS military cooperation lacks the required algorithm, and that CIS countries have only established a joint air-defense system. In his opinion, such cooperation is absolutely essential and the CIS military should target specific threats that cannot be repelled by one country alone. However, the general believes the political conditions are not yet in place for such an alliance.

    For its own part, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (which comprises Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) has a military orientation. Therefore, the general believes that future military cooperation within its framework is more promising than intra-CIS military cooperation.

    When speaking about recent media speculation about Western control over Russia's strategic nuclear forces, General Baluyevsky said there was no reason for such apprehensions. He believes Russia will not allow any other country to exercise such control.

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