Russia eyes intervention in Kyrgyzstan

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A Russian-led security group does not rule out military intervention in Kyrgyzstan to bring ethnic violence there under control, a senior Russian official was quoted as saying Monday.

An emergency meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation "did not rule out use of any means at the disposal of the CSTO" to help quell the unrest, said Nikolai Patrushev, former head of the FSB security service.

CSTO member countries, which include Kyrgyzstan and a handful of other ex-Soviet republics, were working on a coordinated response which "we hope" will be ready soon, Patrushev said in comments shown on Russian television.

His remarks came as CSTO representatives held an emergency meeting in Moscow called by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The group has in the past year discussed forming a collective rapid reaction force designed to respond to just such crises, but has so far looked like an organisation without a mission.

Kyrgyzstan's interim leader, Roza Otunbayeva, appealed last week to Russia for military assistance to bring the ethnic fighting in the south of the country under control.

The Kremlin dispatched two planeloads of humanitarian aid but has so far declined to intervene militarily, saying the violence in Kyrgyzstan is an internal problem and conditions do not exist for Russian intervention.

Russia has however rushed paratroop reinforcements to boost security at a Russian military base on the outskirts of Bishkek.

The United States also maintains an air transit base in Kyrgyzstan, a facility that has become crucial to US-led NATO operations in Afghanistan.

© 2010 AFP

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