Tag Archives: CSTO

New head of CSTO appointed

JAN. 3 2020 (The Bulletin) — Belarussian General Stanislav Zas was appointed Secretary-General of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) ending more than a year of rows and acrimony over who was going to lead the FSU military group. In 2018, after only 1-1/2 years into his 3-year posting, Armenian general Yuri Khachaturov was arrested for ordering police to shoot protesters in Yerevan in 2008.


— This story was first published in issue 433 of the weekly Bulletin on Jan. 13 2020

— Copyright owned by the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

Comment: The CSTO has always lacked relevance

Other than spreading Russian influence, the CSTO is a military alliance lacking a clear mission. Opportunities to impose itself and carve out an identity have been missed, writes James Kilner.

NOV. 29 (The Bulletin) — For a military organisation that can pull together regular summits which include Russian President Vladimir Putin, the CSTO is oddly anaemic. On Nov. 28, the heads of states of the six members of the CSTO met in Bishkek for a summit that was only vaguely relevant.

This is a military organisation led by Russia which has dodged intervention on its doorstep and inside its borders. It currently doesn’t even have a permanent Secretary-General to lead it.

The CSTO, or to give it its full name the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union as something of a Warsaw Pact light, very light. It was supposed to impose a military pact over the rump of the Soviet Union that wasn’t looking West and to NATO. But its origins and ambitions have always been confused.

A CIS military grouping was formed after the Tashkent Pact of 1992, with Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Georgia as members. When it came to be renewed in 1999, though, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan declined. This meant that when the CSTO was finally created in 2002 there were also only six members and it was dominated by Russia.

Recent inaction by the CSTO has also undermined its cause. The CSTO stood by in 2010 when fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan, killed several hundred people and forced thousands of ethnic Uzbek to flee. Often too, as in Ukraine and Georgia, Russia is a belligerent, or backs a belligerent, in a conflict, forcing CSTO peacekeeping missions off the table.

Even when there is cooperation within the CSTO, it is couched as bilateral. Armenia has sent 100 deminers and doctors to support Russian rebuilding in Syria but other countries declined and the deal is considered to be between Russia and Armenia directly.

Of course, it doesn’t help that since the start of this year, the CSTO has been without a Secretary-General. Yuri Khachaturov, the Armenian former CSTO Secretary-General, is currently standing trial for “subverting the constitution” in Yerevan in 2008 when police killed at least 14 protesters. Members of the CSTO haven’t been able to agree on a replacement.

The CSTO holds value to Russia for helping it to spread political influence and to sell its military products, but as a militarily operational group it is largely irrelevant.


— This story was first published in issue 430 of the weekly Bulletin.

CSTO leaders meet in Bishkek for summit

NOV. 28 (The Bulletin) — Leaders of member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) signed 15 documents focused on enhancing cooperation at their annual summit in Bishkek, media reported quoting the Kyrgyz Presidential Administration. The CSTO was set up shortly after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. It has been accused of being weak and failing to intervene in regional conflicts, most notably in fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh in 2010.

— This story was first published in issue 430 of the weekly Bulletin.

CSTO decrees Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan as a terrorist organisation

SEPT. 7 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — The Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a post-Soviet grouping of most militaries in Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Belarus and Russia, decreed at its meeting in June that the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) was a terrorist organisation, media reported. Tajik officials have arrested or forced into exile all the main members of the IRPT since 2015 after President Emomali Rakhmon accused the group of a coup attempt. Until then, the IRPT, whose top members have sought sanctuary in Europe, had been the official opposition group.

— This story was first published in issue 343 of The Conway Bulletin on Sept. 15 2017

Uzbekistan has no plans to rejoin the CSTO

TASHKENT, JULY 3/5 2017 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan will not rejoin the Russia-led CSTO military group despite improved relations with its neighbours, Uzbek foreign minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said.

He was speaking after growing speculation that Uzbekistan was looking for a more prominent military role. Earlier, Uzbekistan had said that it was due to hold military exercises with Russia for the first time since 2005.

The CSTO, short for the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, was formed in 1992 after the break up of the Soviet Union and is mainly used as a mechanism for sharing military exercises. Although a rapid reaction force was set up in 2009, it has been criticised for not deploying forces, most notably during ethnic riots in Osh, south Kyrgyzstan, in 2010 that killed hundreds of people.

During a TV interview, Mr Kamilov said: “The question of renewing our CSTO membership is not on the agenda. There are no plans to discuss or review this matter in the future.”

Analysts had speculated that President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in power since September 2016, may look to reengage with the CSTO. He has generally opened up Uzbekistan since taking power.

Uzbekistan suspended its membership of the CSTO between 1999 and 2006 and quit altogether in 2012. In August 2012, the Uzbek parliament voted to ban Uzbekistan from joining military alliances, including the CSTO. At the time, Uzbekistan was earning billions of dollars as an exit corridor for NATO equipment leaving Afghanistan.

Along with Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are also members.


Copyright ©Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 336, published on July 16 2017)


Kazakh President returns back to work

OCT. 14 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Kazakh president returned to work after three days off because he had apparently caught a cold, his press office said. Part of Mr Nazarbayev’s image is his fitness and virility and it is rare for him to admit to taking any time off work. The cold apparently caused Mr Nazarbayev to skip a meeting of the FSU-focused CSTO group in Yerevan.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 301, published on Oct. 21 2016)

CSTO agree on crises centre in Armenian capital

OCT. 14 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – At a meeting in Yerevan, leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) agreed to set up a new crisis response centre. The thinking behind the centre is to improve the exchange of information between CSTO members on terrorism. The CSTO includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 301, published on Oct. 21 2016)

Kazakh President signs CSTO army deal

APRIL 18 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) – Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed into law a deal with member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to facilitate the transit of army units. The deal will allow soldiers and equipment to be transferred more quickly across CSTO member states. The CSTO is a Russia-led security group.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 277, published on April 22 2016)

Tajikistan hosts regional security summit

SEPT. 15 2015, DUSHANBE (The Conway Bulletin) — Leaders from member states of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) travelled to the Tajik capital for their annual summit, with talk of the threat from Islamic extremism dominating the conference.

Security was tight across Dushanbe. Earlier this month twin attacks on police stations, one in Dushanbe and one in a nearby town, killed nearly two dozen people.

The day after the summit, Tajikistan’s Prosecutor-General accused the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) of coordinating the attacks (Sept. 17). The authorities have been putting the IRPT under increased pressure over the past year. Linking it to the attacks will now, almost certainly, mean it will be banned.

At the CSTO summit, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon said the number of young Tajiks lured to join IS in Iraq and Syria is increasing.

“The spectre of emergencies and security threats in the region is not diminishing, and could even grow,” he said. This rhetoric, Western analysts have said, suits the security- focused agenda of Central Asia. Many think it is overstated.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said he will help Central Asia strengthen its southern border against any Taliban incursions.

“Here in Tajikistan you are confronted with problems, with encroachments and attempts to rock the situation, and I would like to say that you can always count on our assistance and support,” media quoted Mr Putin as saying.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 248, published on Sept. 18 2015)


CSTO force to be sent to Tajikistan

JUNE 10 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) – Russia would be prepared to send a rapid reaction force to defend Tajikistan’s southern border from Taliban incursions, Russian media quoted General Nikolai Bordyuzha as saying. General Bordyuzha is head of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), an FSU intergovernmental military group.


Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved

(News report from Issue No. 235, published on June 11 2015)