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Russian-Led Security Bloc Runs Exercises Near Baltic Borders

The Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has begun a six-day military exercise near the border of Estonia.

The commander in charge of the "Cooperation-2015" exercises, Russian General Vladimir Shamanov said the drills that began on August 23 would practice "localizing an armed conflict and eliminating illegal armed formations in the Eastern European region."

The exercises are being conducted in Russia's western Pskov region and involve some 2,000 troops, including some 1,000 Russian paratroopers, some 200 vehicles and about 40 warplanes and helicopters.

Troops from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are also participating.

Russia's Defense Ministry has said that after the first phase of the exercises are completed in the Pskov region, the troops and military hardware will be redeployed to the Ashuluk training range in southern Russia’s Astrakhan region.

Ashuluk is about 500 kilometers from Russia’s border with eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax