CSTO is a Self-Sufficient Organization with Significant Capabilities

The peacekeeping forces from CSTO member states have become an important force for maintaining collective international security. Its plans include establishing a working relationship with corresponding UN agencies in order to add CSTO peacekeepers to the UN register.

The RIA Novosti press center hosted a news conference by Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Nikolai Bordyuzha. The focus of the news conference was CSTO activities in the past two months (listed at the end of this article), such as the provision of military-technical assistance to Tajik border troops in order to strengthen the Tajik-Afghan border. Other topics discussed include the CSTO’s plans to participate in the stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan after 2014, the situation in Syria and neighboring regions, training and exercises of peacekeeping forces, military-technical cooperation, and security measures in Eurasia with the participation of CSTO.

Responding to a question about the goals and the outcome of the recently held military exercises involving CSTO peacekeeping forces outside Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk Region, Bordyuzha noted that the exercises addressed typical peacekeeping tasks, such as escorting civilians, disengaging the warring parties, escorting humanitarian convoys, riot control, etc. He believes that the peacekeeping forces from CSTO member states have become an important force for maintaining collective international security. Its plans include establishing a working relationship with corresponding UN agencies in order to add CSTO peacekeepers to the UN register.

Regarding possible risks of the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, Nikolai Bordyuzha believes that the situation could deteriorate and instability could increase in Afghanistan. Moreover, this instability would adversely affect all CSTO member states. “We are concerned about the activities of militant training camps in Afghanistan,” Bordyuzha said. “I can’t rule out the possibility that after some time the citizens of our countries who have been trained as militants in these camps will try to destabilize the situation in CSTO member states. We should be taking preventive measures now to avoid this.”

As for drug trafficking from Afghanistan, Nikolai Bordyuzha believes that it’s almost impossible to shut down all trafficking corridors even using the latest techniques. “I was recently on the border with Afghanistan,” he said, “and I witnessed how widely the Tajik-Afghan border is used to transport drugs.” Clashes with trafficking groups occur regularly there. And they are becoming more frequent. Last year, there were 17 armed clashes on the border, compared to 30 in the first nine months of 2013.

Answering questions about CSTO efforts to strengthen the Tajik-Afghan border, Bordyuzha said that the border has been carefully examined and the effectiveness of border guards has been evaluated, resulting in a decision to strengthen their forces. The necessary military-technical assistance, including weapons, ammunition, equipment and special equipment, is expected to arrive in Tajikistan within the next three months, providing Tajik border guards with what they need to protect the border. Furthermore, Bordyuzha said, steps should be taken to build strong border infrastructure in order to better protect it and prevent armed militant groups and large quantities of drugs from crossing it.

With regard to Syria, Nikolai Bordyuzha called the forces fighting against the official Syrian government the “Terrorist International”, referring to the hundreds of militants from CSTO member states. “We are doing our best to prevent a recurrence of the Syrian scenario in the member states,” Bordyuzha said. “Before Syria there was Libya, and before that there was Chechnya, particularly the first campaign, in which a large number of mercenaries fought.”

Asked whether the potential association of Ukraine and the European Union poses geopolitical or military risks to the CSTO, Bordyuzha said that Ukraine’s choice is its sovereign right and that “we do not consider the possible association of Ukraine with the EU as a threat to the Collective Security Treaty Organization.”

Nikolai Bordyuzha also discussed the relationships with NATO, noting that the CSTO “made an offer of cooperation to NATO in order to jointly build up collective action against the threats faced by CSTO countries. Bordyuzha pointed out that the CSTO is a self-sufficient organization with significant capabilities and that interaction with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not a critical issue, although it would be helpful to work together on the Afghan issue.

Nikolai Bordyuzha provided detailed answers to other questions posed by journalists about such issues as rearming the Russian army, the future use of the Manas base in Kyrgyzstan, and establishing collective CSTO air forces in the near future.

Members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan.

In September and October 2013, several significant CSTO events were held, such as the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly Council meeting in Bishkek, the meeting of the Collective Security Council and the CSTO statutory bodies in Sochi, the 11th session of the Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Economic Cooperation of the CSTO States in Yerevan, the Interaction-2013 exercises of the Collective Rapid Response CSTO Forces in Belarus as well as the most representative peacekeeping exercises to date, Inviolable Brotherhood 2013, in the Chelyabinsk Region near Chebarkul, the International Conference on Afghanistan-2014 in Bishkek, and the multi-day international auto rally Together We Are Strong, dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the CSTO.

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