Russia and four former Soviet republics have been shooting up the Kazakh steppe to showcase a new rapid reaction force.
The leaders of Russia, Armenia, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan dressed for the occasion, President Dimitri Medvedev in designer fatigues by Yudashkin, and looked on as 7000 troops and 90 aircraft went through their paces. The wargame scenario involved “insurgents” holding hostages in a chemical plant. Only Belarus and Uzbekistan of the seven-nation Collective Security Treaty Organisation, set up by Russia as a NATO counterweight, do not contribute to the rapid reaction force. For the last two weeks the wargames have ranged over some 1600 square kilometres, ending on Friday.