CSTO Summit: what we managed to agree on

MOSCOW, 19 Sep 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

On September 16 of this year, a session of the Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation was held in Dushanbe under the chairmanship of President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon. As expected, it turned out to be difficult.

The internal political crisis in Afghanistan, including that caused by the flight of the United States, has fundamentally changed the conditions for the continued existence of the CSTO. For the first time in two decades, the participants were required to fulfil their obligations and comply with the principles underlying the very concept of collective security.

The fact that the vast majority of the session’s negotiations were conducted in a closed mode from journalists indicates the scale of the difficulties and discrepancies that have arisen. However, judging by the known results, it was still possible to overcome a significant part of the disagreements.

As a result of the work, the parties signed 14 final documents, from which at least six indicate the deepening of integration and the gradual transfer of the CSTO from a purely political to a collective defensive status.

Although it is too early to talk about full success, however:

– an agreement on joint logistical and medical support for the collective forces of the CSTO;

– a plan for equipping them with modern weapons, military and special equipment, special resources;

– a decision on the scheme of the CSTO secure multi-service communication network;

– decision on the Chief of the Joint Staff;

– the decision on the composition of military contingents and the formation of special forces of the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces;

This all points to the gradual creation of real military instruments of a collective nature and the structure of their practical use, which can be considered an undoubted success on the way to modernising the Organisation’s mechanism.

In addition, two other fundamental points should be considered positive.

Firstly, the parties agreed on the need for collective participation in solving the problem of strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border, which has a length of 1,344 km and passes through many sections in difficult-to-reach mountainous terrain. However, so far this agreement is of the most general nature. Tajikistan has submitted a certain package of proposals, designed in the form of a draft Target interstate program, which the other participants agreed to “consider and adopt as quickly as possible”.

Secondly, the CSTO members approved a plan to hold a series of Collective Forces military exercises in Tajikistan: “Search 2021″, “Echelon 2021″, “Interaction 2021″ and “Cobalt 2021″, organised according to a sole operational plan. The first of them is scheduled for October. Although the volume of forces and means involved for its implementation is not yet known, it is unlikely to be very large. Nevertheless, it will already serve as a significant help in solving the problem of strengthening the security of the Tajik border with Afghanistan.

And most importantly, at the last session it was possible to come up with a mechanism for integrating the CSTO into the UN international security system.

The Protocol on Amendments to the Agreement on Peacekeeping Activities of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation of October 6, 2007 was signed. These changes provide for the possibility of involving the CSTO Peacekeeping Forces in peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the UN through the “coordinating CSTO member state”.

In other words, this opens up the possibility for the CSTO to form collective peacekeeping forces not only on behalf of a regional state (and the CSTO is primarily a regional treaty), but also on behalf of the United Nations. Thus, the channel of Western intervention in the Central Asian region is cut off, allegedly on behalf of “the entire international community”.

Summing up the above, the CSTO summit that took place can be considered generally successful. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to turn the Organisation into a really effective collective defensive mechanism.

Elena Panina – Director of the RUSSTRAT Institute

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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