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Belarus To Join CSTO's Rapid Reaction Forces

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev at an informal CSTO summit in July 2009 (front, left to right)
MINSK -- Belarus is in the process of joining the rapid-reaction forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on October 2 that joining the forces is "very important" for Belarus.

The decision to join the CSTO's military unit is a policy change for Minsk, as Lukashenka refused to sign the documents on joining the rapid-reaction forces at the June 14 CSTO summit in Moscow in protest over Russia's ban on the import of Belarusian dairy products.

Lukashenka said Belarus is ready to fulfill all its obligations within CSTO and to join the forces.

The CSTO member states are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.