January 31, 2014 / 1:18 PM / 5 years ago

Russia sending advanced air defense systems to Kazakhstan

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is delivering S-300 advanced air defense systems to Kazakhstan, state-run RIA news agency reported Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov as saying on a trip to Astana.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to increase Russia’s influence over former Soviet Union countries with a series of political, trade and security initiatives that aim to tighten cooperation among the states.

This move attempts to boost the capabilities of a post-Soviet security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), which combines Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.

“Five divisions of S-300 will be delivered from the surplus of the Russian Defence Ministry,” Antonov was quoted as saying.

A division is usually made up of 12 rocket systems.

Russia said last year it was sending four S-300 divisions to Belarus, Interfax reported.

The CSTO has faced criticism for its lack of activity since its inception in 1992.

Uzbekistan signed the original CSTO treaty but said last year it was suspending its membership in the bloc.

Russia signed a contract with Syria in 2011 to send four S-300 units to the war-torn country for $1 billion, Russian daily Vedomosti has reported. A military source said last year that some parts had likely been delivered but had not been sent in full.

Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Toby Chopra

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