Russia to Place $7.5Bln in CIS Rescue Fund

ReutersMedvedev, left, with the heads of state from Kazakhstan, Belarus and Tajikistan for an ODKB summit in Moscow.
Russia will contribute $7.5 billion to a rescue fund of five former Soviet states on top of more than $3 billion already promised to individual allies, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said Wednesday.

The leaders of Russia, Belarus and the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan discussed joint efforts to fight the global economic crisis, including the creation of a $10 billion mutual rescue fund, at a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Moscow.

"To create the anti-crisis fund, which is worth approximately $10 billion, Russia will contribute $7.5 billion, Kazakhstan $1 billion," Lukashenko told the meeting.

President Dmitry Medvedev, who addressed a final news conference, gave no figures of contributions by individual countries to the fund. He said there would be no nonrefundable handouts.

"We are creating this fund to issue loans ... to our allies," he said. "Terms should be acceptable for the countries finding themselves in a difficult situation, similar to those under which international financial organizations issue their credits."

Also at the summit, seven countries -- Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- decided to form a joint rapid reaction force, a move that would boost the military dimension to the alliance, which until now has served mostly as a forum for security consultations.

The force will consist of about 10,000 men and function under a central command. The alliance now has a rapid reaction force of about 3,000, but it is not under unified command.

Kremlin foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko said Russian paratroopers would form the core of the force.

Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said Kyrgyzstan might host some of the newly formed rapid reaction forces at the base currently leased by the U.S. military.

(Reuters, AP)