Russia will take part in air defense exercises within the framework of the Russia-NATO program in 2004, Yury Baluyevsky, the deputy head of the Russian General Staff, told journalists today. According to him, the first stage of the exercises will be held in a NATO member state this year. The second stage of the exercises will be conducted in Russia in 2005. Baluyevsky noted that the Russian defense ministry was actively engaged in promoting closer cooperation of Russia and NATO in respect to compatibility of air defense and missile defense systems. He added that Russia paid special attention to the creation of a corresponding legal base for such cooperation.