Russia and Uzbekistan are both members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a regional grouping that also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
But, as CSTO spokesman Vitaly Strugovets told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, the present drill is not being conducted under the aegis of the organization.
"The exercise is taking place on a bilateral basis," Strugovets said. "Therefore, it has nothing to do directly with the CSTO. Yet, it shows that Russia and Uzbekistan are really becoming allies, including in the military sphere."
The manoeuver involves Russian special units and airborne troops stationed in the Northern Caucasus Military District.
The Russian and Uzbek defense ministers, Sergei Ivanov and Ruslan Mirzaev, respectively, are expected to personally monitor the drill.
(with RIA Novosti and Interfax-AVN)
President Karimov (left) with Russian President Putin in July 2005 (epa)
BETWEEN EAST AND WEST: One of the ramifications of the May 2005 bloodshed in Andijon has been a souring of relations between Tashkent and the West, accompanied by a raproachment between Uzbekistan and Russia. Following sharp U.S. and European criticism of the Andijon crackdown, Uzbekistan kicked the United States out of the Karshi-Khanabad air base and began actively courting Moscow.
"Today, we are reaching an unprecedented level in our relationship," Uzbek President Islam Karimov said during a November 2005 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at which the leaders signed a strategic-partnership agreement. "I understand and we all understand in Uzbekistan that it is unprecedented that Russia signs such a partnership agreement with Uzbekistan."
For an annotated timeline of the Andijon events and their repercussions, click here.