CSTO: The modern international structure of regional security

The CSTO is an open organization, and its activities are aimed at strengthening regional security and developing mutually beneficial cooperation with other members of the international community

May 14, 2017 21:23
2 minute read.
Saint Petersburg

Sennaya Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ANTON VAGANOV)

May 15 marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of an agreement which led, 10 years later, in 2002, to the establishment of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

CSTO is a regional security organization which allows its member states –Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan – to deal in an efficient and comprehensive manner with security challenges of the 21st century. These include not only so-called hard security threats such as a possible direct military aggression from a foreign state or a group of states.

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Current security challenges, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime, illegal migration, natural disasters and сrimes in the sphere of information security more often than not have a soft or hybrid nature. Last but not least, today, the possibility of destabilization remains in certain regions of the world, and the probability of existing conflict situations becoming aggravated. All these relatively new threats and challenges also shape the CSTO agenda.

The CSTO’s legal cornerstone is Article 4 of the founding treaty, which says: “If one of the member states suffers from aggression... it will be considered by the member states as aggression against all the member states. In this case all the member states, upon the request of this member state, shall immediately provide the latter with the necessary help, including military assistance, as well as provide support by all means at their disposal.”

The combined might of the CSTO member states’ militaries is the main tool to deter aggression. To counter other threats, there are also CSTO collective forces composed of a number of integrated military detachments from the member states. The largest is a Collective Rapid Response Force numbering about 20,000 troops from all member states. They are equipped with state-of-the-art weapons, have air support and special forces units. Regular joint drills and maneuvers are held to maintain readiness for rapid deployment to a potential war theater. An integrated air defense system for all six CSTO member states is being established.

To deal with non-military aspects of security the member states have created an efficient system of daily cooperation between relevant national agencies and organizations through the CSTO permanent secretariat in Moscow. Significant multifaceted operational efforts have been underway to prevent and eradicate international terrorism within the area of responsibility. There are also such ongoing long-term joint projects as “Channel” (against drug trafficking), “Proxy” (to ensure cyber security) and “Illegal” (to prevent illegal migration).

However, the organization ensures the security of its members, first and foremost, through political and diplomatic means. All six countries are committed to long-term strategic coordination in international and regional fora on issues of common interest, as reflected in the collective security strategy for the period until 2025.

CSTO has become an influential player in the international system, maintaining ties with the UN, OSCE, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other international and regional fora, as well as with governments worldwide, having the potential to contribute to regional and global security.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the CSTO is an open organization, and its activities are aimed at strengthening regional security and developing mutually beneficial cooperation with other members of the international community in line with the principle of equal and indivisible security.

Vladimir Skvortsov is ambassador of Belarus to Israel.

Doulat Kuanyshev is ambassador of Kazakhstan to Israel.

Alexander Shein is ambassador of Russia to Israel.

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