Asia and Eurasia
CSTO as Peacemaker

The CSTO-2022 is the result of colossal multi-year joint efforts made by the six member states of the organisation, writes Rashid Alimov, SCO Secretary General (2016-2018). The article was prepared for the Valdai Club Conference with the support of the Russian Foreign Ministry, titled "Collective Security in a New Era: Experience and Prospects of the CSTO".

Making peace is much more difficult than destroying it. When a flock of black crows tried to cover the sun and sky over our brotherly nation Kazakhstan with their wings, the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the CSTO, like steppe falcons, at the first call demonstrated their unique capabilities to act swiftly, reliably and efficiently. The peacekeeping operation was carried out with filigree precision, without use of force, without losses and with great dignity.

Thanks to joint efforts, the threat to national security and sovereignty of the Republic of Kazakhstan was removed, and the situation in the country was stabilised. What was most important, however, was that the deep and weighty meaning of the alliance was demonstrated, and powerful support was provided to the legitimately elected president.

Undoubtedly, the CSTO operation will go down in history of peacekeeping operations as an exemplary one, for at least three reasons:

  • First, the speed of reaction to the emerging security threat facing one of the allies;
  • Second, it showed the coherence of the actions of all the involved participants: from the state presiding in the CSTO and the heads of the member states of the Organisation to commanders and military personnel;
  • Third, in terms of the speed of achieving goals and the organised withdrawal of the peacekeeping contingent.
Incidentally, all this provides additional grounds for bringing the issue of connecting the CSTO peacekeeping forces to UN peacekeeping operations to a new, practical level.

If for the region the CSTO  peacekeeping operation meant the implementation of one of its statutory tasks, for the outside world the Organisation opened up in a completely new way. Back in July 2021, some experts wondered if the CSTO had a future. After the peacekeeping operation in Kazakhstan the emphasis reversed itself.
The CSTO now is an established, influential international organisation that has powerful potential to solve the problems of collective security.

It is important to note that the CSTO-2022 is the result of colossal multi-year joint efforts among the six member states. Colonel-General Nikolai Bordyuzha knows best of all how the organisation was formed and its modern structure crystallised. Suffice it to say, that since 2004 more than thirty exercises of various kinds have been held on the territories of the CSTO member states. In 2021 alone, eight large-scale exercises took place, five of them in Tajikistan near the Afghan border. The reason is clear - one of the most serious security threats to the entire region emanates from the territory of Afghanistan. 

Various scenarios of the development of crises in that country are possible, and each may affect the security of the countries of Central Asia.

Afghanistan is suffering one of the worst humanitarian situations in the world, accompanied by a drought and severe economic problems. In addition, various terrorist groups continue their activity on Afghan territory, which the current government in Kabul is unable to neutralise. For example, the so-called Islamic State (banned in Russia) carried out 334 terrorist attacks in 2021, five times more than a year earlier.

As you know, under the ashes of an old war, sparks of a new one are always hidden. It cannot be ruled out that with the coming of spring we will witness a new round of tension in Afghanistan. This, in turn, can increase the activity and the geography expansion of the international terrorist and extremist organisations, the penetration of militants from Afghanistan into the countries of Central Asia.

Taking into account the Afghan factor, it is important for the CSTO to strengthen its potential on the southern borders. In this regard, the proposal of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon to create a "security belt" around Afghanistan comes to the fore. Everyone who is interested in stopping any threat from the territory of Afghanistan could be invited to this work.

Central Asia is the core of both the SCO and the CSTO. Potential threats to regional security dictate the need to bring cooperation between the two partner organisations to a qualitatively new level. For example, joint anti-terrorist military exercises could strengthen their interaction. It is also important to strengthen coordination between the special bodies of the SCO and CSTO member states in order to jointly counter the subversive propaganda of terrorist organisations in cyberspace. Regional anti-drug security could be strengthened by cooperation through a CSTO - SCO - CIS – UN link.

Additionally, since the beginning of the 2000s, there has been noticeable increased attention to the region from non-regional actors. There are currently nine Central Asia Plus formats. It is important that each of them contribute to a greater socio-economic upsurge of the region, and not drag it into a big geopolitical game. In this regard, it would be appropriate to initiate an annual Conference on the Security and Development of Central Asia with the participation of all interested parties.

Global Governance
Central Asia: Regional Security as a Process
Ulugbek Khasanov
The problems in Afghanistan have obviously dominated the approach to security in Central Asia over the past 40 years since the Saur Revolution. This is why the entire context and results of the June 2021 summits of the G7, NATO, US-EU and US-Russia came down to a number of strategically important issues on the global agenda in which Afghanistan occupied a key role, writes Ulugbek Khasanov, Head of Regional Security & Conflicts Study Lab., University of World Economics & Diplomacy, Uzbekistan.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.