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Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)

The Central Asian Republics are members of several regional organizations whose stated aim is promoting multilateral solutions to security and economic challenges. These groupings that include the Central Asian states are receiving increased scrutiny around the world. The Collective Security Treaty Organization, formed under the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States, serves as a mutual defense alliance among Russia, Belarus, Armenia and the four Central Asian states except Turkmenistan. The Eurasian Economic Community comprises a similar grouping of states but focuses on economics, including the creation of a common market, border security standards, a customs union, standardized currency exchange and joint programs on social and economic development. Both of these organizations are strongly supported by Russia and capitalize on residual political, economic, and bureaucratic linkages among former Soviet republics.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had been unproductive and has not materialized into the political-military pact Moscow had envisioned as a competitor to NATO and the EU. Moreover, several states rejected the May 1992 Treaty on Collective Security, or Tashkent Treaty, which Moscow had initiated as a "regional security structure within the CIS."

In May 2002, the Collective Security Treaty of the CIS renamed itself the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), with the stated focus of preserving territorial integrity and seeking closer cooperation with other multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and NATO. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov spoke of the CSTO as a potential Eurasian partner for NATO. According to Ivanov, "the next logical step may be to work out a mechanism for cooperation between NATO and the CSTO with corresponding, clearly defined spheres of responsibility."

CSTO members are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Russia's clear preeminence within the organization limits its legitimacy. Neither Uzbekistan nor Turkmenistan is party to the CSTO, nor is Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan, nor the three Baltic Replubics. In 2006, Uzbekistan took steps to rejoin the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Community (EurASEC), both organizations dominated by Russia.

Moscow's nominal allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) are either too weak (Kyrgyzstan), too self-centered (Armenia), or not loyal enough (Tajikistan). By 2007 the remaining bigger CSTO members, Belarus and Kazakhstan, were increasingly independent-minded. Russia has supported multilateral approaches including CSTO-NATO parity in Central Asia, but has been more effective in promoting bilateral relations with its former republics. This is especially true in military-to- military contacts.

In the case of the CSTO, Russia set up a base at Kant, Kyrgyzstan, to provide air support to the rapid deployment force. In September 2003, Bishkek and Moscow finally concluded a long delayed agreement on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for the establishment of a Russian managed air base and the stationing of Russian air force personnel and combat aircraft in Kyrgyzstan. These assets will be part of a joint (Russian/Kyrgyz) air element that will be a component of CSTO's rapid reaction force and support its antiterrorist role.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization launched the first stage of the international anticrime operation "Channel 2005" in Belarus. This cooperative effort between CIS law enforcement officials resulted in the seizure of more than 80 kilograms of narcotics in Belarus in October 2005. Overall, the interdiction effort known as Channel-2005 seized close to 9 MT of drugs in 2005, including over 200 kg of heroin.

In January 2006 the Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Nikolay Bordyuzha, did not rule out the possibility that the CSTO will use its military potential in the event that Azerbaijan attacked Armenia. The CSTO Secretary General said this in the interview published in the Moscow 'Nezavisimaya Gazeta' on 14 January 2006. "Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty Organization says that the aggression against CSTO member states is considered by other participants as aggression against everyone. No comments are needed in this case. The key task of the CSTO, despite its military potential, is to create such a system which will allow not to enable the armed forces. The Treaty aims to prevent bloodshed and application of force for solving problems both inside the country and on the borders with other states."

Russia has used its position in international fora to build cooperative mechanisms and programs to counter terrorism. For example, Russia led efforts to make counterterrorism cooperation a key element in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Through the CSTO, Russia committed financial and technical resources and also supported the OSCE's initiative to develop projects aimed at strengthening security along Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan.

Members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of former Soviet states, are planning to allocate some 33 billion rubles ($1 billion) to procure new weaponry for its joint rapid reaction force, a senior CSTO official said 26 December 2013. According to CSTO Deputy General Secretary Valery Semerikov, an arms procurement program for the blocs rapid reaction force has been approved by all member states and will be soon signed by their presidents. We will begin implementing this program in 2014. It will require an allocation of some 33 billion rubles, Semerikov said at a news conference in RIA Novosti.

Collective Rapid Reaction Forces
(?ollektivnyye Sily Operativnogo Reagirovaniya KSOR)

The May 2002 decision to create the CSTO was based on the reactivation of long standing plans to create a joint CIS rapid reaction force needed to support "collective security". The plan also called for a common air defense architecture and a coordination in foreign, security and defense policies. By 2003 President Putin had invested considerable time and effort in "reenergizing" both the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). By 2003, the framework included a joint command center in Moscow with a rapid reaction force based in Central Asia. This force is designed to be available to operate under the aegis of the United Nations and, according to the CSTO General Secretary Nikolai Bordyuzha, is "ready to operate throughout the territory of all [the] Central Asian region." Supporting the various military-security networks are the 201st Division with 5,500 military personnel and a large contingent of border guards in Tajikistan.

The CSTO is not a Warsaw Pact II. The Russian Armed Forces aim for full strategic and operational self-sufficiency, even as they exercise with CSTO and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Serious questions remained about the potential for a CSTO rapid deployment force to be an effective entity in the foreseeable future given resource constraints of all the member nations, but the effort underscored Russia's interest in reasserting some influence in the region.

The collective rapid-reaction force to be created by a post-Soviet regional security bloc will be just as good as comparable NATO forces, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on 04 February 2009. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) agreed at a summit in Moscow to set up the new force, to be based in Russia. Medvedev said the force, to be comprised of a "sufficient" number of units, would be "well trained and well equipped.... Russia is ready to contribute a division and a brigade... This gives you an idea of the scale."

An agreement to create a joint rapid-reaction force was signed by the leaders of all CSTO member states in 2009. The force reportedly includes an airborne division and an air assault brigade from Russia, and an air assault brigade from Kazakhstan. The remaining members contribute a battalion-size force each, although Uzbekistan only agreed to delegate its detachments to take part in operations on an ad hoc basis. In line with the agreement, the force will be used to repulse military aggression, conduct anti-terrorist operations, fight transnational crime and drug trafficking, and neutralize the effects of natural disasters.

Russias Armed Forces contributed, with a paratroop division and a paratroop brigade, to the creation of the Collective Rapid Response Forces, which will be acting in the interests of the member nations of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.


  • 98th Guards airborne division (Ivanovo);
  • 31st Guards air assault brigade (Ulyanovsk);
  • 37th air assault brigade (Taldykorgan);
  • Marine forces battalion;
  • Spetsnaz brigade;
  • Infantry battalion;
  • Infantry battalion;
  • Infantry battalion.

    Following the regime change in Kyrgyzstan in April 2010, displacing President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, neighboring states and international security organizations were anxious about the countrys possible descent into chaos.5 While the political crisis in Kyrgyzstan was long in the making and its regime change caused concern among numerous actors, the eruption of ethnic-related violence in southern Kyrgyzstan on June 11, 2010, not only threatened the fragile state but also risked destabilizing Central Asia. Many looked to the CSTO for action to stabilize the country, especially as KSOR seemed suited for this purpose. For Western analysts the refusal by the CSTO to act in response to requests for assistance from the interim Kyrgyz government prompted predictable hand-wringing about the ineffectiveness of the CSTO. The Kyrgyz crisis exposed complex perspectives and perceptions about the role of the CSTO. Not only were Western analysts and policymakers confused about the CSTO or the potential of KSOR, so too were CSTO members senior officials not least Kyrgyz President Rosa Otunbayeva.

    During the CSTO summit in Moscow on December 10, 2010, critical amendments to the Collective Security Treaty (1992) and the CSTO Charter (2002) reportedly allowed a political decision authorizing the use of force to be taken on the basis of a ballot among member states, rather than on achieving full consensus. Such changes effectively mark the evolution of the organization from orientation exclusively towards collective defense to cooperative defense arrangements - CSTO was originally designed to protect its members from external aggression rather than internal instability.

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