RUS
Global perspective through the lens of regional issues
RUS
Search
Reports

CSTO: Adapting to New Military and Political Realities

photo:
3 June 2024

Facing geopolitical turbulence and a largely unpredictable scenario of world order transformation, countries pursuing sovereign foreign and domestic policy attach particular importance to collective formats of ensuring national security and joint analysis of changes taking place in the key regions of the world in order to obtain a comprehensive assessment of risks and threats, both current and future, and develop adequate measures to effectively eliminate them.

In this respect, the first 2024 session of the Council of Defense Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO CDM) held on May 31 in Almaty under the chairmanship of Kazakhstan was of high significance. The session was attended by the Organizations Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov and Chief of the Joint Staff, Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov.

The CSTO Secretary General made a presentation on «Challenges and Threats to Military Security in the Collective Security Regions of the Collective Security Treaty». The session participants discussed the military and political situation in the collective security regions and its impact on the security of the member states. A number of documents were reviewed and signed concerning modern and advanced arms and materiel supplies to CSTO troops components (collective forces), planning of joint operational and combat training, improvement of CSTO peacekeeping forces training methodology, the Targeted Interstate Program of the Collective Security Treaty Organization on the Strengthening of the Tajik-Afghan Border, etc.

The SCTO CDM summit became the first international forum where Andrey Belousov spoke as the recently appointed Russian Minister of Defense.

Russias Position

It was stated that the negative impact on the international situation comes primarily from the USA and its NATO allies. Speaking at the CSTO CDM session, the Russian Minister of Defense Andrei Belousov said: «The military and political situation in the collective security regions remains challenging and requires close attention on our part. The main negative impacts on the situation development originate from destructive activities of the USA and its allies». According to Belousov, «in order to maintain their global dominance, Washington and its satellites are consistently destroying the international security architecture, deliberately provoking crises and armed conflicts, support terrorist and extremist organizations, apply all kinds of sanctions, resort to threats and blackmail».

Within the CSTO area of responsibility, tension is highest in the East European collective security region, with major impact on all Organization members. NATO is stepping up its presence in Eastern and Central Europe, enhancing combat readiness and size of the coalition forces. North Atlantic alliance military infrastructure is being developed, combat training and reconnaissance activities become increasingly active near the CSTO countries borders. A series of large-scale exercises Steadfast Defender 2024 took place from February to May.

The Russian Defense Minister also dwelled upon issues of the Special Military Operation (SMO). According to Andrei Belousov, «as they supply weapons to Kiev, share intelligence and train the Ukrainian armed forces, the Western countries escalate and protract the armed conflict. From February 2022 up to now, the Ukrainian side has been provided military-technical, financial and other assistance exceeding $278 bn in value. NATO advisers and specialists are involved in preparing sabotage attacks, and Western-made weapons are used to inflict damage on civilian infrastructure and population of the Russian Federation».

«Russia continues the special military operation, and all its objectives will certainly be achieved. We act decisively and proportionally to security threats», Belousov stressed. SMO experience helps optimize combat engagement of Russian troops, develop the countrys defense industries, improve the military training system, and perfect skills through operational and combat training. «Therefore, all attempts to inflict a strategic defeat on us are futile», the Minister added.

Andrei Belousov also highlighted the fact that, in pursuing their confrontational course towards Russia, the North Atlantic alliance and the European Union are causing increasing tensions within Georgia and between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

«Certain NATO countries are seeking to reinforce their positions in the Caucasus, in order to access Caspian resources and open a direct route to Central Asia. They destabilize Georgia and sponsor protests there, pushing the government to take active anti-Russian steps», the Russian Defense Minister remarked. «Mediation assistance is blatantly imposed on Armenia and Azerbaijan to reconcile their differences. A dictated peace treaty is proposed that must be signed within the Western institutional framework». Belousov added that «of special concern are the plans of Washington and Brussels to draw Armenia into their spheres of interest under the pretext of enhancing security and defense».

The West Looking for a Weak Link

Contemplating on Defense Minister Andrei Belousovs speech at the CSTO Council of Defense Ministers session, one has to admit that the post-Soviet countries continue to be a focus of attraction for hosts of external players, and by no means all of them are well-intentioned. In fact, the USA and France have been ramping up their activity trying to exert their influence directly within the CSTO area of responsibility, acting destructively against particular member countries. The first and obvious example is Armenia: the collective West is trying to turn it into a kind of Trojan horse which, while retaining formal membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, would sabotage it from within, derogating the authority and significance of CSTO. Unfortunately, the enemy has achieved some results in this respect.

Namely, under a vain pretext Yerevan suspended its participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, announcing this move through Pashinyans interview to French media, and stopped paying its membership fee to the CSTO budget. Prime-Minister Nikol Pashinyan then claimed that the Organization had failed to fulfill its obligations towards Armenia, especially in 2021-2022. A direct and immediate exit from CSTO clearly an unfriendly step would have triggered Russias retaliatory sanctions of economic nature against Armenia. Yerevan thus chose the political distancing tactics: «breaking all ties» was postponed to a later, most convenient moment to be agreed upon with the West.

Last year Armenia chose not to participate in a number of CSTO activities, in particular, two military exercises and the November summit in Minsk (Collective Security Council session at the highest level). In May 2023 Pashinyan openly threatened to exit CSTO, blaming the Organization for not responding to his request for a monitoring mission; however, several months later he switched to a softer rhetoric, as circumstances altered.

At the same time, the so-called observation mission of the European Union was launched in Armenia, its skeleton staff made up of Western intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover; they were later joined by military professionals. This gave the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reason to talk directly about transformation of the EU mission in Armenia into a NATO mission: «And now servicemen from Norway, Canada and the USA are destined to go there, turning the European Union mission into a North Atlantic one».

Espionage and subversive activity of the said EU mission is being scaled up both by increasing its staff size and by setting up more and more offices (stations) on the Armenian territory. Agents of influence are recruited.

While scaling back its partnership with CSTO, Yerevan has boosted cooperation with countries hostile to Russia. In this respect, the geographic scope of recent international visits by Armenias Ministry of Defense Suren Papikyan is indicative. For instance, he pointedly ignored the Almaty session of CSTO Council of Defense Ministers, however in the same period he paid a visit to Belgium where he «discussed matters of European security during a meeting with ministers of defense of EU and partner countries». Moreover, as the Republic of Armenias Ministry of Defense reported, Suren Papikyan and Robert Brieger, Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, discussed specific avenues of Armenia-EU cooperation in the area of defense. Papikyan also briefed Western partners on the progress of armed forces reform in Armenia.

Obviously the rapid progress in Yerevans military and armaments cooperation with the North Atlantic alliance countries means a phased transition of the Armenian army to NATO standards, eventually to the point of full interoperability. 

A series of military exercises have already taken place on the Armenian territory where US troops were involved practically exploring the new theater of operations.  

Another symptomatic event was the recent official visit of the French Minister of the Armed Forces Sbastien Lecornu to Yerevan, where he was greeted with a solemn welcome ceremony and for good reason! Paris committed to build a turnkey integrated air defense system for Armenia, fully compatible with NATO standards. The cooperation program is designed in phases. Yerevan will first receive the French Mistral short-range surface-to-air system. After the required training program is complete and the Armenian army is saturated with those ADMS, France will provide Yerevan with the Crotale Roland SAM systems. In the final phase the armed forces of Armenia will receive SAMP/T long-range air defense missile systems. Apart from the said ADMS, Paris will supply to Armenia three GM 200 mobile airspace control radar sets, and subsequently six more.

French military specialists will perform the integration of ADMS and radars on the basis of a deployable air defense combat operations center using relevant automation devices. This will allow NATO to take control over the whole South Caucasus airspace which presents a clear and direct national security threat to the Russian Federation as well as other countries in the region. Next Yerevan will denounce the Russian-Armenian agreement on establishing a Joint Regional Air Defense System in the Caucasus Collective Security region.

Another noteworthy trend is the increasingly close cooperation between Armenia and the leading Western countries at the level of intelligence services. Yerevan was lately visited by heads of nearly all major Western intelligence agencies and all of them were honored with a private one-on-one audience with Pashinyan. The subject of their talks is an easy guess.

Diplomatic stations of Western intelligence services, which entrenched themselves in Yerevan under the umbrella of NATO member countries embassies, have substantially expanded their staff and ramped up their activity.

During the February visit of Prime-minister Nikol Pashinyans to Paris, the parties agreed to establish a close partner relationship between foreign intelligence services of France (DGSE) and Armenia (FIS), with the view to provide Yerevan (as per agreed list of issues) with intelligence information of political and military nature, including the sharing of satellite surveillance and electronic intelligence data with the Armenian FIS. 

Before the end of 2024 under the worst-case scenario Yerevan may take a political decision to close Russias military base in Gyumri and deploy a French base there; the same can be done to Russian border guards stationed in Armenia. Shortly after a French military base, Armenia may host a US airbase in Erebuni, and a US NSA cyber intelligence center. 

As regards Pashinyans much-cited statement that «the issue of the Russian military base is not on the agenda», this is just a move to keep Russia «hooked», a piece of strategic disinformation that Yerevan agreed upon with Washington, Paris and Brussels designed so as not to trigger Russias early retaliatory action, including possible economic sanctions.

Armenia is about to discontinue commissioned officers training in Russia and will completely rely on the West in this respect. It was declared that France will be the first NATO country to admit train Armenian officers and sergeants as well as military equipment operators and technicians at its military schools.

Regarding Russian officials reaction to the shifts in Yerevans foreign policy, the opinion of Boris Gryzlov, the Russian Federation Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus, is of special interest, the more so because he made this statement in his May 31 interview to the specialized publication Soyuzniki. ODKB («Allies. CSTO»). Gryzlov believes that Armenias decision to «freeze» its participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization cannot disrupt the organizations work in any significant way, however its positions in the South Caucasus region will be weakened. «In light of the current situation, the optimal strategy will be to further improve the collective security system in the CSTO format and develop cooperation with stakeholder countries and associations. Configuration of such a model is getting increasingly clear I mean the processes associated with the shaping of a multipolar world order», Ambassador Gryzlov says. 

Strengthening the Borders

A statement was made at the CSO CDM session that, as before, the main source of instability for the Central Asian region is the situation in Afghanistan. Multiple radical groups that became rooted on its territory are more active than ever in promoting their extremist ideologies to the neighboring countries. There is increasing risk of terrorism being exported out of Afghanistan. All this makes continuous monitoring especially critical, with timely response measures to stabilize the situation, in particular strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border.

«In the face of mounting military threats along the CSTO perimeter, the collective security forces and capabilities need to be improved. Analysis has demonstrated that the political-military situation remains tense and is characterized by increasing military threats on the Organizations perimeter», the RF Defense Minister Andrei Belousov pointed out. He explained that in these circumstances there is a need for perfect coordination and continuous improvement of the forces and capabilities included in the collective security system, and faultless decision-making mechanisms. According to Belousov, «in creating an effective security system, military alignment within the framework of CSTO is prioritized. This is particularly important because the Western countries are persistently trying to undermine allied relations among CSTO member countries and discredit the Organizations activity».

«Today we face a full-scale information warfare and economic sanctions, we experience direct pressure», A. Belousov said and outlined the key objectives to focus on in the current situation, one of them being the improvement of the CSTO crisis response system. That involves «the practicing of algorithms envisaged in the new documents that regulate the making and execution of decisions on the employment of collective security forces and equipment. The legislative and regulatory framework of the Organization should be amended as appropriate to enable operational deployment of CSTO troops (collective forces), transportation of military formations and materiel», the Russian Minister of Defense said.

The intensity of operational and combat training in the CSTO format should not weaken. Here increased attention should be given to combat readiness of the collective forces, their equipment and improvement of combat training. In addition, action is needed to strengthen the unity within the block and enhance coordination of foreign policies. It is important to use high-profile international forums to promote our common approaches to security issues, hold regular consultations both in multilateral and bilateral formats, and give due consideration to information support of CSTO activities in order to maintain a positive image of the Organization. Close collaboration is needed with other regional organizations, primarily CIS and SCO, and with friendly countries.

«I am confident that these steps will enable CSTO to be more effective in the area of security and will continuously enhance its authority», the Russian Ministry of Defense Andrei Belousov concluded.

Use Expert Community Potential

In the run-up to the CSTO Council of Defense Ministers session, speaking at the May 23 roundtable «NATO as a Vehicle of Crisis in West-Russia Relations», hosted by the Institute of Contemporary International Studies of the RF Foreign Ministrys Diplomatic Academy, General Director of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies (CISS) Igor Korotchenko said that «at the present time NATO and Europe at large are implementing practical measures in preparing themselves for a big war with Russia, or at least in acquiring material, technical and resource capacity for waging such a war. It is thus critically important for Russia not only to reinforce its own military capabilities but also to strengthen such a crucial institution as CSTO».

He emphasized that over the next two or three years the European military industry will be totally readjusted and placed on a war footing to produce weapons on a wartime scale. In parallel to that, the contractual armed forces of European NATO member countries are being reformatted towards the conscript model, with the possibility of setting up full-scale incursion battle groups. «In this respect, it is highly important that the state institutions of the Russian Federation, primarily the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense, would work to strengthen the position, status and authority of CSTO», CISS General Director said.

«Today, all the preconditions are in place to significantly expand the Organizations potential in 2024-2025: the CSTO General Secretary is Imangali Tasmagambetov,  a high-profile politician with practical work experience in key positions in government, a person with broad strategic outlook who has won respect in CSTO member countries and in the Central Asian region as a whole», Korotchenko added.

Speaking of CSTO priority areas of activity, Igor Korotchenko mentioned, in particular, of oil and gas infrastructure protection against terrorist attacks, and cybersecurity. «First and foremost, the Organization member countries should concentrate their efforts on two issues which are of primary importance. One is the analysis and neutralization of risks and threats originating from terrorist organizations which may target oil, gas and other critical infrastructure of CSTO member countries. The other is the formation and subsequent development of CSTO cyber structures, with drills to ensure protection of national information infrastructure from external influences», the head of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies pointed out.

It is obvious that global threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking and others could be effectively addressed through coordinated action between CSTO, CIS, SCO and BRICS, also in close cooperation with the relevant UN institutions.

In addition, the processes associated with the shaping of a multipolar world order will inevitably generate new coordination and cooperation formats between the Collective Security Treaty Organization and countries of the Global South, whose military, political and economic interests largely and effectively coincide with those of CSTO member states.

In a recent agenda-setting speech, CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov pointed out that, in todays environment, systemic action becomes especially urgent to develop effective mechanisms for responding to the existing crises and prevention of potential conflicts. This work should rely upon in-depth analysis of the current international security situation and capacity building for strategic prognostication of new challenges and threats to global and regional security.

Strengthening and expanding cooperation in the area of information analysis between CSTO and the key specialized think tanks is therefore the imperative of our time.

16+
4 office, XXIVd premise , 5 floor, 2 Novodmitrovskaya Str., 2 bldg., Moscow, Russia 127015.
Savyolovsky City Business Center, Davis Tower
Ph. +7 (495) 767-81-36
Ph./Fax: +7 (495) 783-68-27
E-mail: info@caspian.institute
Legal footer
All the rights for the materials published on this website reside with the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies. Reprint of materials and their use in any form including in digital media is permissible strictly subject to exclusive reference to CISS.
2022-2024, Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies
top
Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies
Reports

CSTO: Adapting to New Military and Political Realities

photo:
3 2024

Facing geopolitical turbulence and a largely unpredictable scenario of world order transformation, countries pursuing sovereign foreign and domestic policy attach particular importance to collective formats of ensuring national security and joint analysis of changes taking place in the key regions of the world in order to obtain a comprehensive assessment of risks and threats, both current and future, and develop adequate measures to effectively eliminate them.

In this respect, the first 2024 session of the Council of Defense Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO CDM) held on May 31 in Almaty under the chairmanship of Kazakhstan was of high significance. The session was attended by the Organizations Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov and Chief of the Joint Staff, Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov.

The CSTO Secretary General made a presentation on «Challenges and Threats to Military Security in the Collective Security Regions of the Collective Security Treaty». The session participants discussed the military and political situation in the collective security regions and its impact on the security of the member states. A number of documents were reviewed and signed concerning modern and advanced arms and materiel supplies to CSTO troops components (collective forces), planning of joint operational and combat training, improvement of CSTO peacekeeping forces training methodology, the Targeted Interstate Program of the Collective Security Treaty Organization on the Strengthening of the Tajik-Afghan Border, etc.

The SCTO CDM summit became the first international forum where Andrey Belousov spoke as the recently appointed Russian Minister of Defense.

Russias Position

It was stated that the negative impact on the international situation comes primarily from the USA and its NATO allies. Speaking at the CSTO CDM session, the Russian Minister of Defense Andrei Belousov said: «The military and political situation in the collective security regions remains challenging and requires close attention on our part. The main negative impacts on the situation development originate from destructive activities of the USA and its allies». According to Belousov, «in order to maintain their global dominance, Washington and its satellites are consistently destroying the international security architecture, deliberately provoking crises and armed conflicts, support terrorist and extremist organizations, apply all kinds of sanctions, resort to threats and blackmail».

Within the CSTO area of responsibility, tension is highest in the East European collective security region, with major impact on all Organization members. NATO is stepping up its presence in Eastern and Central Europe, enhancing combat readiness and size of the coalition forces. North Atlantic alliance military infrastructure is being developed, combat training and reconnaissance activities become increasingly active near the CSTO countries borders. A series of large-scale exercises Steadfast Defender 2024 took place from February to May.

The Russian Defense Minister also dwelled upon issues of the Special Military Operation (SMO). According to Andrei Belousov, «as they supply weapons to Kiev, share intelligence and train the Ukrainian armed forces, the Western countries escalate and protract the armed conflict. From February 2022 up to now, the Ukrainian side has been provided military-technical, financial and other assistance exceeding $278 bn in value. NATO advisers and specialists are involved in preparing sabotage attacks, and Western-made weapons are used to inflict damage on civilian infrastructure and population of the Russian Federation».

«Russia continues the special military operation, and all its objectives will certainly be achieved. We act decisively and proportionally to security threats», Belousov stressed. SMO experience helps optimize combat engagement of Russian troops, develop the countrys defense industries, improve the military training system, and perfect skills through operational and combat training. «Therefore, all attempts to inflict a strategic defeat on us are futile», the Minister added.

Andrei Belousov also highlighted the fact that, in pursuing their confrontational course towards Russia, the North Atlantic alliance and the European Union are causing increasing tensions within Georgia and between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

«Certain NATO countries are seeking to reinforce their positions in the Caucasus, in order to access Caspian resources and open a direct route to Central Asia. They destabilize Georgia and sponsor protests there, pushing the government to take active anti-Russian steps», the Russian Defense Minister remarked. «Mediation assistance is blatantly imposed on Armenia and Azerbaijan to reconcile their differences. A dictated peace treaty is proposed that must be signed within the Western institutional framework». Belousov added that «of special concern are the plans of Washington and Brussels to draw Armenia into their spheres of interest under the pretext of enhancing security and defense».

The West Looking for a Weak Link

Contemplating on Defense Minister Andrei Belousovs speech at the CSTO Council of Defense Ministers session, one has to admit that the post-Soviet countries continue to be a focus of attraction for hosts of external players, and by no means all of them are well-intentioned. In fact, the USA and France have been ramping up their activity trying to exert their influence directly within the CSTO area of responsibility, acting destructively against particular member countries. The first and obvious example is Armenia: the collective West is trying to turn it into a kind of Trojan horse which, while retaining formal membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, would sabotage it from within, derogating the authority and significance of CSTO. Unfortunately, the enemy has achieved some results in this respect.

Namely, under a vain pretext Yerevan suspended its participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, announcing this move through Pashinyans interview to French media, and stopped paying its membership fee to the CSTO budget. Prime-Minister Nikol Pashinyan then claimed that the Organization had failed to fulfill its obligations towards Armenia, especially in 2021-2022. A direct and immediate exit from CSTO clearly an unfriendly step would have triggered Russias retaliatory sanctions of economic nature against Armenia. Yerevan thus chose the political distancing tactics: «breaking all ties» was postponed to a later, most convenient moment to be agreed upon with the West.

Last year Armenia chose not to participate in a number of CSTO activities, in particular, two military exercises and the November summit in Minsk (Collective Security Council session at the highest level). In May 2023 Pashinyan openly threatened to exit CSTO, blaming the Organization for not responding to his request for a monitoring mission; however, several months later he switched to a softer rhetoric, as circumstances altered.

At the same time, the so-called observation mission of the European Union was launched in Armenia, its skeleton staff made up of Western intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover; they were later joined by military professionals. This gave the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reason to talk directly about transformation of the EU mission in Armenia into a NATO mission: «And now servicemen from Norway, Canada and the USA are destined to go there, turning the European Union mission into a North Atlantic one».

Espionage and subversive activity of the said EU mission is being scaled up both by increasing its staff size and by setting up more and more offices (stations) on the Armenian territory. Agents of influence are recruited.

While scaling back its partnership with CSTO, Yerevan has boosted cooperation with countries hostile to Russia. In this respect, the geographic scope of recent international visits by Armenias Ministry of Defense Suren Papikyan is indicative. For instance, he pointedly ignored the Almaty session of CSTO Council of Defense Ministers, however in the same period he paid a visit to Belgium where he «discussed matters of European security during a meeting with ministers of defense of EU and partner countries». Moreover, as the Republic of Armenias Ministry of Defense reported, Suren Papikyan and Robert Brieger, Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, discussed specific avenues of Armenia-EU cooperation in the area of defense. Papikyan also briefed Western partners on the progress of armed forces reform in Armenia.

Obviously the rapid progress in Yerevans military and armaments cooperation with the North Atlantic alliance countries means a phased transition of the Armenian army to NATO standards, eventually to the point of full interoperability. 

A series of military exercises have already taken place on the Armenian territory where US troops were involved practically exploring the new theater of operations.  

Another symptomatic event was the recent official visit of the French Minister of the Armed Forces Sbastien Lecornu to Yerevan, where he was greeted with a solemn welcome ceremony and for good reason! Paris committed to build a turnkey integrated air defense system for Armenia, fully compatible with NATO standards. The cooperation program is designed in phases. Yerevan will first receive the French Mistral short-range surface-to-air system. After the required training program is complete and the Armenian army is saturated with those ADMS, France will provide Yerevan with the Crotale Roland SAM systems. In the final phase the armed forces of Armenia will receive SAMP/T long-range air defense missile systems. Apart from the said ADMS, Paris will supply to Armenia three GM 200 mobile airspace control radar sets, and subsequently six more.

French military specialists will perform the integration of ADMS and radars on the basis of a deployable air defense combat operations center using relevant automation devices. This will allow NATO to take control over the whole South Caucasus airspace which presents a clear and direct national security threat to the Russian Federation as well as other countries in the region. Next Yerevan will denounce the Russian-Armenian agreement on establishing a Joint Regional Air Defense System in the Caucasus Collective Security region.

Another noteworthy trend is the increasingly close cooperation between Armenia and the leading Western countries at the level of intelligence services. Yerevan was lately visited by heads of nearly all major Western intelligence agencies and all of them were honored with a private one-on-one audience with Pashinyan. The subject of their talks is an easy guess.

Diplomatic stations of Western intelligence services, which entrenched themselves in Yerevan under the umbrella of NATO member countries embassies, have substantially expanded their staff and ramped up their activity.

During the February visit of Prime-minister Nikol Pashinyans to Paris, the parties agreed to establish a close partner relationship between foreign intelligence services of France (DGSE) and Armenia (FIS), with the view to provide Yerevan (as per agreed list of issues) with intelligence information of political and military nature, including the sharing of satellite surveillance and electronic intelligence data with the Armenian FIS. 

Before the end of 2024 under the worst-case scenario Yerevan may take a political decision to close Russias military base in Gyumri and deploy a French base there; the same can be done to Russian border guards stationed in Armenia. Shortly after a French military base, Armenia may host a US airbase in Erebuni, and a US NSA cyber intelligence center. 

As regards Pashinyans much-cited statement that «the issue of the Russian military base is not on the agenda», this is just a move to keep Russia «hooked», a piece of strategic disinformation that Yerevan agreed upon with Washington, Paris and Brussels designed so as not to trigger Russias early retaliatory action, including possible economic sanctions.

Armenia is about to discontinue commissioned officers training in Russia and will completely rely on the West in this respect. It was declared that France will be the first NATO country to admit train Armenian officers and sergeants as well as military equipment operators and technicians at its military schools.

Regarding Russian officials reaction to the shifts in Yerevans foreign policy, the opinion of Boris Gryzlov, the Russian Federation Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus, is of special interest, the more so because he made this statement in his May 31 interview to the specialized publication Soyuzniki. ODKB («Allies. CSTO»). Gryzlov believes that Armenias decision to «freeze» its participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization cannot disrupt the organizations work in any significant way, however its positions in the South Caucasus region will be weakened. «In light of the current situation, the optimal strategy will be to further improve the collective security system in the CSTO format and develop cooperation with stakeholder countries and associations. Configuration of such a model is getting increasingly clear I mean the processes associated with the shaping of a multipolar world order», Ambassador Gryzlov says. 

Strengthening the Borders

A statement was made at the CSO CDM session that, as before, the main source of instability for the Central Asian region is the situation in Afghanistan. Multiple radical groups that became rooted on its territory are more active than ever in promoting their extremist ideologies to the neighboring countries. There is increasing risk of terrorism being exported out of Afghanistan. All this makes continuous monitoring especially critical, with timely response measures to stabilize the situation, in particular strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border.

«In the face of mounting military threats along the CSTO perimeter, the collective security forces and capabilities need to be improved. Analysis has demonstrated that the political-military situation remains tense and is characterized by increasing military threats on the Organizations perimeter», the RF Defense Minister Andrei Belousov pointed out. He explained that in these circumstances there is a need for perfect coordination and continuous improvement of the forces and capabilities included in the collective security system, and faultless decision-making mechanisms. According to Belousov, «in creating an effective security system, military alignment within the framework of CSTO is prioritized. This is particularly important because the Western countries are persistently trying to undermine allied relations among CSTO member countries and discredit the Organizations activity».

«Today we face a full-scale information warfare and economic sanctions, we experience direct pressure», A. Belousov said and outlined the key objectives to focus on in the current situation, one of them being the improvement of the CSTO crisis response system. That involves «the practicing of algorithms envisaged in the new documents that regulate the making and execution of decisions on the employment of collective security forces and equipment. The legislative and regulatory framework of the Organization should be amended as appropriate to enable operational deployment of CSTO troops (collective forces), transportation of military formations and materiel», the Russian Minister of Defense said.

The intensity of operational and combat training in the CSTO format should not weaken. Here increased attention should be given to combat readiness of the collective forces, their equipment and improvement of combat training. In addition, action is needed to strengthen the unity within the block and enhance coordination of foreign policies. It is important to use high-profile international forums to promote our common approaches to security issues, hold regular consultations both in multilateral and bilateral formats, and give due consideration to information support of CSTO activities in order to maintain a positive image of the Organization. Close collaboration is needed with other regional organizations, primarily CIS and SCO, and with friendly countries.

«I am confident that these steps will enable CSTO to be more effective in the area of security and will continuously enhance its authority», the Russian Ministry of Defense Andrei Belousov concluded.

Use Expert Community Potential

In the run-up to the CSTO Council of Defense Ministers session, speaking at the May 23 roundtable «NATO as a Vehicle of Crisis in West-Russia Relations», hosted by the Institute of Contemporary International Studies of the RF Foreign Ministrys Diplomatic Academy, General Director of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies (CISS) Igor Korotchenko said that «at the present time NATO and Europe at large are implementing practical measures in preparing themselves for a big war with Russia, or at least in acquiring material, technical and resource capacity for waging such a war. It is thus critically important for Russia not only to reinforce its own military capabilities but also to strengthen such a crucial institution as CSTO».

He emphasized that over the next two or three years the European military industry will be totally readjusted and placed on a war footing to produce weapons on a wartime scale. In parallel to that, the contractual armed forces of European NATO member countries are being reformatted towards the conscript model, with the possibility of setting up full-scale incursion battle groups. «In this respect, it is highly important that the state institutions of the Russian Federation, primarily the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense, would work to strengthen the position, status and authority of CSTO», CISS General Director said.

«Today, all the preconditions are in place to significantly expand the Organizations potential in 2024-2025: the CSTO General Secretary is Imangali Tasmagambetov,  a high-profile politician with practical work experience in key positions in government, a person with broad strategic outlook who has won respect in CSTO member countries and in the Central Asian region as a whole», Korotchenko added.

Speaking of CSTO priority areas of activity, Igor Korotchenko mentioned, in particular, of oil and gas infrastructure protection against terrorist attacks, and cybersecurity. «First and foremost, the Organization member countries should concentrate their efforts on two issues which are of primary importance. One is the analysis and neutralization of risks and threats originating from terrorist organizations which may target oil, gas and other critical infrastructure of CSTO member countries. The other is the formation and subsequent development of CSTO cyber structures, with drills to ensure protection of national information infrastructure from external influences», the head of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies pointed out.

It is obvious that global threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking and others could be effectively addressed through coordinated action between CSTO, CIS, SCO and BRICS, also in close cooperation with the relevant UN institutions.

In addition, the processes associated with the shaping of a multipolar world order will inevitably generate new coordination and cooperation formats between the Collective Security Treaty Organization and countries of the Global South, whose military, political and economic interests largely and effectively coincide with those of CSTO member states.

In a recent agenda-setting speech, CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov pointed out that, in todays environment, systemic action becomes especially urgent to develop effective mechanisms for responding to the existing crises and prevention of potential conflicts. This work should rely upon in-depth analysis of the current international security situation and capacity building for strategic prognostication of new challenges and threats to global and regional security.

Strengthening and expanding cooperation in the area of information analysis between CSTO and the key specialized think tanks is therefore the imperative of our time.