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    Kazakhstan, Russia to hold joint missile defense drills

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    Kazakhstan and Russia will soon conduct joint missile defense exercises involving elements of Russia's Space Forces, a senior Kazakh military official said on Thursday.

    ASTANA, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Kazakhstan and Russia will soon conduct joint missile defense exercises involving elements of Russia's Space Forces, a senior Kazakh military official said on Thursday.

    "In the near future we are planning to hold large-scale Kazakh-Russian exercises, dubbed Shield-2008, in western Kazakhstan," the commander of the Republican Guard, Lt. Gen. Abai Tasbulatov, told an international security conference in the Kazakh capital.

    He said the exercises will focus on joint defense against air and ballistic missile strikes, and will involve in addition to air defense units elements of Russia's Space Forces.

    The two countries, both members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), are set to conduct a number of joint military drills next year, including a naval anti-terrorism exercises in the Caspian Sea.

    Russia has recently been strengthening military ties with Eurasian allies amid growing tensions over NATO expansion and U.S. missile shield plans for Central Europe.

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