The CSTO is in Search within Strategic Directions

The CSTO is in Search within Strategic Directions

By Tevan Poghosyan

Most Russian and European politicians and experts admit the obvious amorphism of the CSTO and its incomplete adequacy towards real challenges.

By this the necessity in the means of collective security in the region is also evident.

Military analysts of the Organization think that, there are three directions of main threats for the CSTO. This situation in Afghanistan; establishment of a military body in the region of the CSTO responsibility, as well as the issues of terrorism, extremism, drugs traffic.

Slight changes can be observed within the main strategic direction from where the threat for Russia and its CSTO partners comes – in Afghanistan. Here non-military threats come out to the front – poverty and corruption ruling in the region. Sooner or later they can result into social-political disaster with all consequences, including also those leading to the spreading of fundamentalism. Demonstrative in this respect many people call the events in Kyrgyzstan. We should fight the kind of threats already now, when it is yet possible to do it peacefully – investments into the economy of the states, development of health service and education, and also advises for the authorities to focus really on fighting against corruption. Only military means for “stability maintenance” can result in that in reality they shall ”react rapidly” on takeovers, civil wars and interethnic conflicts somewhere in Central Asia and to stabilize the situation with military-police methods.

Also non-optimistic is the last declaration of the US President on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

As Obama noted, 10 thousand military men shall be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of the year and 33 thousand of soldiers shall return to the USA by the following summer. After the gradual return of American troops back home, Afghan forces shall undertake the responsibility for the control over the situation in the country.

“Our task has changed: “we move from struggles to support”, - underlined the President of the USA. He added that in 2014 Afghanistan shall be able to assure their security independently.

The President has also announced that next May Chicago shall hold NATO Summit, during which they shall discuss the action plans of the Alliance in Afghanistan.

And meanwhile talking about the second direction of the threats towards the CSTO, the General Secretary of the Organization N. Bordyuzha underlined that these are the establishment of military infrastructure around the CSTO states, the rehabilitation of military airfields in three Baltic states, the foundation of advance bases in Bulgaria, Romania as well as some NATO measures, related to the establishment of the infrastructure in Central Asian region. “A body is not created just as that, it is created for some political tasks and goals. This also worries us greatly”, - notes the General Secretary of the CSTO N. Bordyuzha.

Here progress is possible only within the way of development of real, but not declarative cooperation with the USA and NATO.

The third direction is the traditional list of threats: terrorism, political religious extremism, drugs, migration, information security and other problems of daily life of the state. In this direction the CSTO has approached the introduction of the unique automatized system of border control. According to N. Bordyuzha this anticipates the development of unique automatized system of border control of the CSTO member-states, as well as equipping the border control units with modern technical devices.

The CSTO tries to work on the scheme of drugs dissemination. One of the recent steps is the signing of memorandum on cooperation between the CSTO and the Organization for Social and Economic Development of Asia and Pacific region (the so-called “Colombo plan”).

The attention to the third direction, especially to new threats in the sphere of informational security, has evidently grown after the so called twitter-revolution in the states of Maghreb and Near East.

The plan draft of the first stage events to develop the basics of coordinated informational policy in the benefit of the CSTO was considered in March. The document anticipates formation within the CSTO member-states a positive informational image of the Organization, public opinion, favorable to solve the task on integration and union relations development, gradual foundation of modern and effective system for adequate reply on negative and destructive informational influence.

It has already been sent for in-state approval. However the project obviously fall behind current reality.

Not only the developers of this draft fall behind but the so-called main CSTO analytical circle. This April the Unified Headquarters of the Organization held expert session on the subject “Directions for Collective Security System Development in the View of Current Issues of Counteraction Modern Challenges and Threats within Eurasia”. The representatives of bodies and centers for international and political research, security specialists took part in the event.

Director of Russian Center of Geopolitical Expertise V. Korovin held a report “Network Challenges andThreats: Socket Puppet Revolution, Mimetic Warfare, Social Networks as Weapon of Desovereignization”. According to him, “today some countries has faced the phenomena of “mimetic warfare”,  - using social networks, mobile connection, flash mobs, blogs, twitters, etc with the same objective – desovereignization of individual states and removal of political regimes in power”.

The report had an interesting feedback. Most of the participants admitted that they are absolutely incompetent in this subject. And even the terms themselves incite certain confusion.
The CSTO – Basic Space for Russia

The CSTO with its ephemery, nevertheless, takes a special niche in the system of international affairs in Eurasian region. In the essence, this is the only integrational body in Eurasia, which has expressed military dimensions in the frameworks of intentions to establish the system of collective security of several post-soviet states.

However the Organization operates in the terms when there is no unique Eurasian space of security and defense. It remains to be fragmentary and blurred, internally contradicting and moreover potentially conflict-some as several experts consider.

The CSTO states have different views on the objectives and tasks of the Organization.

In the newest “Strategy of National Security of Russia till 2020” the CSTO is mentioned in the number of other organizations of regional and subregional coordination within the CIS area, the attention to which is given by the strategy at the second-third order, after the task of nuclear deterrence and the issues of Russian citizens security assurance. By this its potential is highly evaluated, and the CSTO is observed as the “main interstate mean, called to counteract regional challenges and threats of military-political and military-strategic character, including fighting illegal drugs and psychotropic substances traffic”.

From the other hand, as some Russian analysts state, for Russia the “CSTO is one of the rudiments of the USSR, which are highly appreciated in the Kremlin due to ideological character”. By this Moscow can “observe the territories of its allies on the CSTO as a peculiar “basic area” within three strategically sensitive directions (European, Caucasian, Central Asian)”.

In its turn other CSTO states often observe Russia as the state which would assure the “umbrella of security”, and shall assist in modernization of armament on preferential or free ground.

We can also state that at the moment the declared destination, scales and complicatedness of the CSTO tasks outweigh noticeably the achieved level of cooperation and military-political integration.

In reality the CSTO is still in the beginning of its way leading to the establishment of really operating body of collective security.

Qualitative expert evaluations of potential and prospects of the CSTO development in fact is not represented within informational space.

On the issue of the CSTO there are almost no available special substantial analytical developments or serious study works. There are absolutely no researches on the CSTO estimation from the point of international law.

Indicative for example is that the CSTO plot is absent in the subject of the leading Think tanks of key states.

We could suggest that expert materials should be included into the agenda of the leading applied expert bodies, the kind as Council for Foreign and Defense Policy in the Russian Federation or the Institute of National Strategic Studies of the British Academy of Defense. However it is not this way.

Western experts and commentators sometimes raise the issues on the CSTO activity, in a wider context, observing for example regional aspects of security in Central Asia.

Analysts also note unclear division of functions and parallelism of the activity in the security sphere between various regional unions and organizations (first of all between the CSTO and SCO), as well as the absence of analytical-strategic accompaniment of work on the CSTO line, which “often results into unreasoned bureaucratic expenses and emasculation of definite ideas and decisions”.

The main value of the CSTO for post-soviet states, to the mind of many people is that at the moment this Organization is the only specialized regional institution for security with military compound. Also, the experts note, it “is not burdened with extra dimensions (economic, cultural, etc.)”. Exactly with this structure the organization has a real sense and is more attractive for its members.

Despite that for a long time the CSTO was called a peculiar “NATO alternative” or “mini-NATO”, evident is that the Organization has no chances to compete with the North Atlantic Alliance.

Except for that in recent years the trajectory of the CSTO development also differed from the classic scenario of a military-political block.

The CSTO competence include the assistance in defense of common borders of the members, drugs traffic control, anti-terrorist and peacemaking activity with military operations and trainings. Recently the authorities of the Organization were extended with the task to control illegal migration within the frameworks of the EurAsEc. Listed tasks to a greater extent intercross with the objectives of civil and special establishments of the member-states, rather than exclusively military bodies.

The CSTO is still unbalanced in many issues and amorphous, it hasn’t been shaped in some steady and clear format.

The Organization participants mainly haven’t finalized the primary stage of state formation, their evolution goes on, as well as the whole geopolitical space of the CIS lies in dynamic environment, which is really hard to control.

Finally the CSTO is the organization in which the armed forces of the leading entity are in the process of fundamental reformations. And as analysts consider the CSTO shall come out from this period not earlier that 2020. By this the variability of this process can be the opposite: from complete shut down to cardinal qualitative change of the Organization.
Lessons of Kyrgyzstan

Summarizing the specified issues and suggestions, set by official representatives of the countries and by some observers after Bishkek events, they can be drawn to four main plots.

a) Promotion of the Secretariat and control headquarters independence, reduction of bureaucratization of the body.

b) Careful implementation of CRRF and deficit of civil functions of the CSTO.

c) Conflict between real implementation practice and strategy of the CSTO.

d) Necessity of political strengthening of the CSTO.

Peculiar paternalistic post-soviet democracies of authoritarian type have difficulties with formulating real long-term and mutually beneficial interest. Integration, in its essence, is not needed and roughly speaking no one of the member-states desires to delegate the authorities to the bodies of the Organization on the immanent ground, i.e. to grant them the right to act independently on behalf of the CSTO without considering state interests.

Regarding the first and second point, there is a mild suggestion to amend the Charter the way for the decision of minimum two members of the CSTO to become the ground to hold humanitarian deployment under the flag of collective forces. But this idea is also not realistic.

Also there are suggestions on the necessity to develop more efficient and significant political element of the Organization. At the moment everything focuses on routine summits of the CSTO, work of the Secretary General and his apparatus. Russian military analysts repeatedly declared that modern political buildup is urgent, that would deal with analysis of the situation and forecast its development, urgent and strategic planning, coordination and development of the network of contacts on operative level. But are there real chances for the changes here?
Initiatives of the Following Chairman-in-office

More noticeable are the recent initiatives and applied measures to improve the CSTO efficiency were expressed by Belarus the Chairman-in-office of the Organization.

Minsk suggested dealing first of all with the issues of peacemaking activity of the CSTO and assurance of the activity of the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces. Significant step in this direction shall be the trainings of peacemaking forces.

Thus within the territory of Kazakhstan in 2012, when it shall be the new Chairman, the CSTO plans to hold training of peacemaking forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) .

According to the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Anatoli Serdiukov the process of the CSTO peacemaking forces formation gets to its end. They have already the urgent legal basis, developed offers on the content of national peacemaking contingents. He also said that at the moment they work out the issues of the CSTO potential implementation in international peacemaking operations together with the UNO, as well as in the area of the CSTO responsibility if necessary.

It is also suggested to develop the regulations of implementations of the Ministry of Emergencies units of the CSTO member-states by liquidation of big technogenic and natural disasters.

N. Bordyuzha considers that the given initiatives can play the role of main directions of the CSTO efficiency improvement and within a more long-term prospect.

However, it’s perfectly clear that these suggestions do not influence the dominating inertia of the so-called “limited development” of the CSTO.
The CSTO and International Organization

An urgent part of the CSTO activity is the cooperation with international organizations of regional and universal type. Due to two reasons. This cooperation should promote the strengthening of regional stability, and subjectivity and political power of the CSTO.

We can note that within this direction there is a specific positive start, prospects are observed. But not in terms of relations with the key player (NATO). Mainly it concerns the cooperation within the line CSTO - UNO.

Just as in due time NATO concluded the treaty on cooperation with the UNO (September 2008), the same the CSTO concluded with the UNO a treaty on cooperation in March 2010.

Here we should note that some western commentators treated pretty negatively the signing of the declaration on cooperation between the CSTO and the UNO.

As for NATO, this body pretty clearly indicates that it doesn’t observe the CSTO as a partner.

Although the issue on interaction of the CSTO and NATO, as individual experts think, can be gradually moved forward. In the article printed in the last 2009 issue of the magazine Foreign Affairs, the ex-assistant of the US President on national security and favorite opponent of Russian geopolitical experts Z. Brzezinski formulated a noticeable suggestions on the possibility and necessity to conclude “official pact” between NATO and the CSTO. This would help to include Russia, playing in the CSTO and the whole post-soviet area the central role, “into more close political and military union with Euro-Atlantic community”.

Z. Brzezinski underlined that currently existing NATO claims could be eliminated, by means of inclusion into the suggested treaty (memorandum) on cooperation security assurance the provision on the right of the states that do not participate either in NATO or the CSTO today, to join in future any of these organizations or two simultaneously.

Although by this Z. Brzezinski call the CSTO the organization that is more “imaginative” rather than real. And we should admit that the prerequisites for the development of interaction within the line the CSTO – NATO in the nearest prospect are not yet observed.

The OSCE yet only tries to develop its new regional Asian dimension and also is ready to cooperate however, its political and material resources are not that big.

Useful and promising from the point of view of promotion of inter-institutional interaction, should be acknowledged the initiatives within the line CSTO – OSCE, as well as the decision adopted in October 2010, on the establishment of the CSTO, EurAsEc, CIS ad SCO working interaction group.

As result of this initiative the CSTO gains the potential to solve some security issues in the context of cooperation with China, which is one of the main SCO members.

But among these experts there is a view that many of the CSTO tasks are similar to the tasks of more powerful organization – SCO, and with the development of the last one in the region of Central Asia the both bodies will have to make a division of functions and authorities.

It is considered, however, that the division of niches between the SCO, which focuses on political-economic  interaction and the CSTO, putting its objective as the provision of collective security has already happened, cooperation element for these organizations is more preferable than competing.

As a result of operation of the above named working group there will be also more prospects to assure the issues of economic security on the account of interaction of EurAsEc.
Does the CSTO Have Future?

Analyzing current practice, the circle of contradictions and looking in future experts note some new and important terms, that will mainly define the CSTO development, as well as other institutions of regional security and post-soviet area in general.

At the moment, neorealism is the most demanded theoretical paradigm by politicians and leading expert institutions in the sphere of international security. This theory grounds on the key role military-power components, as well as practice of their implementation in modern conditions (operations in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya).

The CSTO has future in its unique significance for military security of post-soviet states, first of all the states of Central Asia, as it is the only existing organization in the region, that assures at least some military-political integration. Its significance, probably, shall grow, as other international instruments and institutions of security (OSCE, NATO) are much less adapted to the post-soviet area, and are simply unacceptable due many parameters.

Asian members of the CSTO in the following decades are able to give new conflicts. They haven’t yet crossed the phase of development of their own national-democratic states.  Modern state entities yet are surrogates, transit models. IThe possible scenarios of potential conflicts are not predictable. The CSTO format kindly speaking is not ideal, but there is simply no other body that fits to work in this area.

The CSTO starts its significant political-legal and organizational stage (some commentators observe it as final, the others – decisive stage) of its institutionalization. In the prospect it is able to develop into the element of the most important bigger future continental system, but to greater extent due to favorable circumstances, but not due to political will.

To accomplish positive trends of the CSTO development the key issues is the consolidation of the organization, adequate and in time reaction towards new challenges and threats, strict observance of international principles, which simultaneously is an urgent condition of its acknowledgment by international community as a real and useful institution of collective security assurance.

The UNO in terms of its probably inevitable reformation should ground not only on its own peacemaking forces, but also on military power resources of the recently established regional organizations for international security assurance. From this point of view, the CSTO can be observed by the UNO as a main partner, called to counteract regional challenges and threats of military-political and military-strategic character within post-soviet area.

By this individual observers note that the focus on development of the cooperation with the UNO shall be little efficient due to the permanent crisis of the United Nations as an international organization.

There is an opinion, that it would be more practical to exchange it with the promotion of real partnership with NATO.

However, NATO has another dominating line, directed at limitation of the CSTO influence growth and the development of cooperation with post-soviet states on bilateral basis. The Alliance intends to promote the kind of approach. As an example we can set the cooperation with Russia and other states. Recently the Russian Federation and NATO have held joint trainings on counteraction to air terrorism. For the first time the fighter jets of Russia and NATO participated in anti-terrorist training session “Attentive Sky-2011”. Except for that the Alliance has recently extended the list of member-states of the training “Step Eagle”. This August military men from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Lithuania shall take part in this session.

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