The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) joint air defence system units conducted exercises with live firing drills at the Ashuluk firing range in the Astrakhan Region near the Caspian Sea between 6 and 12 September, the Russian Defence Ministry has said.

Russian Air Force spokesman Colonel Vladimir Drik said about 30 aircraft, including four MiG-29 fighter jets from Belarus, took part in the exercises.

Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan air defence units, equipped with S-200, S-125, Buk and other systems also participated in the exercise, according to RIA Novosti.

The drills, which form part of the Combat Commonwealth 2011 air defence exercises, include airstrikes on ground targets and interception of aerial targets.

Combat Commonwealth exercises aim to ensure the protection of member-countries’ airspace, early warning of missile attacks and coordination of joint efforts to neutralise potential air threats.