Kazakhstan to host Russian-led bloc’s military drills

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ALMATY, Sept 22 (Reuters) – A Russian-led security bloc will hold military drills in Kazakhstan from Sept. 26 to Oct. 8, the Kazakh defence ministry said, telling the public not to be surprised by the arrival of foreign troops and military vehicles.

Kazakhstan is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) which also includes Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as Russia.

The drills will take place at an unusually tense time for the bloc, with Russia involved in the Ukrainian conflict, Armenia unhappy with CSTO’s refusal to back it in fresh clashes with Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in a fragile ceasefire after deadly fighting in a disputed border area.

Kazakhstan turned to the CSTO in January when the bloc’s troops came in to protect strategic locations during violent unrest and an attempted coup.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov Editing by Gareth Jones

Photo A file photo of Kazakh servicemen during a ceremony of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in Almaty, Kazakhstan. EPA-EFE/STR

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