CSTO prepares to expand and repel militant attacks

CSTO prepares to expand and repel militant attacks

Russian President Vladimir Putin, while in Bishkek, invited the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) countries to the Victory Parade in Moscow dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Victory. During the summit, the heads of the CSTO countries discussed the issues of strengthening military cooperation, the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border and expanding the organization at the expense of a friend circle.

The CSTO Collective Security Council (CSC) session was held on Thursday in Bishkek, chaired by President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov. It was attended by Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, Presidents of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakhstan Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, Russia Vladimir Putin and Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon. Following the meeting, 15 documents were signed.

The next year, the CSTO chairmanship passes to Russia, and Vladimir Putin, as the future head of the organization, begun to formulate the agenda in Bishkek. The President of the Russian Federation invited his CSTO colleagues to Moscow to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Victory: “A detailed plan has been agreed to provide for a memorial, social, cultural and educational events in all CSTO countries. We are waiting for the leaders of the Organization’s member states at the celebrations in Moscow on May 9, 2020.” Putin also expressed gratitude to his colleagues for "supporting the idea that the military contingents of all CSTO countries would take part in the Victory Parade on Red Square."

At the summit, a new CSTO Secretary-General was elected - the representative of Belarus, Stanislav Zasya. For more than a year, the Collective Security Treaty Organization worked without a secretary-general. The previous secretary-general of the organization, Yuri Khachaturov, resigned on the initiative of Yerevan. In Armenia, he was accused of overthrowing the constitutional order in 2008 and was called to resign. A similar charge was brought against the ex-President of Armenia, Robert Kocharian.

Such a serious accusation of the CSTO Secretary-General was unexpected and caused controversy within the organization. According to the charter, the next chairman should be the representative of Belarus (the chairing countries alternate in alphabetical order), however, Armenia insisted on nominating its candidate in order to complete the cycle of chairmanship in the CSTO. Secretary-General is elected for a term of three years. But none of the candidates proposed by Yerevan was approved for the organization’s main post. Then it was decided that the CSTO deputy director Valery Semerikov would be acting Secretary-General. Stanislav Zasya will begin to lead the military bloc from January 1, 2020.

Vladimir Putin also said that Russia will help to expand the circle of CSTO friends by developing cooperation with all interested states and international associations. According to him, in 2018, Russia approved a package of documents opening up the possibility of granting the status of observer or partner of the CSTO. "After the documents are ratified by all the CSTO countries, we can begin a dialogue with states expressing interest and readiness to establish close contacts with the organization," Vladimir Putin said.

Whether the organization will expand at the expense of new members has not been reported. At the press conference in Bishkek, the acting CSTO Secretary General Valery Semerikov said that a circle of potential CSTO partners has already been outlined, there are also candidates for observers at the organization. According to him, the need for measures to attract new partners was indicated by all the heads of the CSTO countries. Moreover, the regulatory documents of the organization imply entry into the CSTO of third countries, this is provided for by the charter, the Collective Security Treaty. “Undoubtedly, the implementation of this mechanism will improve the image and status of our organization in the international arena,” Semerikov emphasized.

Recall that Serbia and Afghanistan have observer status in the CSTO. Moscow is discussing the resumption of participation in the CSTO of Uzbekistan, which several years ago suspended its activities in the bloc. But it is precisely the situation in Afghanistan that causes concern among the CSTO participants. According to Semerikov, the challenges and threats that come from Afghanistan are forcing the CSTO to take measures, including in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism. He said that several special operations were carried out during the year, which included operational and preventive measures to suppress drug trafficking. A special operation was also conducted to block the entry and exit routes of representatives of various international terrorist organizations on the territory of our states and those militants who participated in terrorist activities in Syria, Libya and other countries.

“One of the most important issues that were discussed at the meeting is the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border,” said Semerikov. ”The situation in the neighboring territories in Afghanistan is very alarming, insurgent forces continue to build up, including ISIS ( banned in Russia). Today, already thousands of militants are located there." He said that the heads of state had signed a list of additional measures aimed at reducing tension on the Tajik-Afghan border. According to him, the CSTO members focused on the need to accelerate the formation of a targeted program to strengthen the protection of the state border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

By strengthening the fighting ability of the organization’s countries and military forces in the countries of Central Asia, the CSTO, judging by the statements, is going to repel the Afghan militant attacks. At the same time, Tajikistan is considered as one of the key countries in the buffer zone between Russia and Afghanistan, in which terrorist activity has grown. Militants migrated to Afghan territory from Syria and Iraq.

In order to ensure the security, in October, upon completion of the Unbreakable Brotherhood 2019 drills, the CSTO donated military equipment and weapons worth of 320 mln rubles to Tajikistan. The Tajik army received a radar station and modernized armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicles BRDM-2M. The 201st Russian military base stationed in Tajikistan was strengthened by the S-300 PS divisional anti-aircraft-missile systems. Kyrgyzstan received several Mi-8 helicopters and radar stations.

Director-General of the East-West Strategy Analytical Center Dmitry Orlov told Vestnik Kavkaza that now in Afghanistan, in addition to ISIS and the Taliban (the terrorist movement is banned in the Russian Federation), there are a lot of different groups that are at war with each other. According to the expert, in Afghanistan, there is no reliable rear for anyone who decides to attack Central Asia. The problem is that there are several wars, not just one or two. In order for the CSTO troops to enter the Tajik-Afghan border, there must be a real threat.”