On May 15, 1992, the heads of state of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan signed a Collective Security Treaty in Tashkent. This Treaty laid the foundation for the creation of a collective security system in the Eurasian space in the post-Soviet period and became the main document, on the basis of which 10 years later the CSTO was created.
CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas gave an interview to RIA Novosti on the 18th anniversary of the creation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization: there is no threat of a CSTO military conflict with NATO
The Collective Security Treaty Organization - CSTO - has been operating for 18 years. The Collective Security Treaty itself was signed in Tashkent on May 15, 1992. The military-political bloc includes six countries – the Russian Federation, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Armenia, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Republic of Tajikistan. The CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas, who took office earlier this year, in his first interview with the media - RIA Novosti - said whether there was a threat of a military conflict between the CSTO and NATO, what the achievements of the organization and the prospects for its expansion were, as well as how in bloc they fought against the coronavirus pandemic and whether the military-political situation in the world would change after the end of the epidemic.
— The CSTO can be congratulated on coming of age - May 15 marks the 18th anniversary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. But the Collective Security Treaty itself was signed back in 1992, and 10 years later the Organization itself was created. How do you assess today the role and importance of the CSTO in the world for ensuring international security in its area of responsibility?
— Now the CSTO is a fully-fledged international organization. And there is every reason for such a statement. The necessary regulatory framework for the work of the organization has been created, the necessary forces and means have been formed to carry out the tasks that the CSTO faces. There is a management and support system, including a system of joint training of forces and means, personnel training, and so on. The objectives of the CSTO are the strengthening of peace, international and regional security and stability, the collective defense of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states.
A powerful military component has been created in the CSTO - bilateral regional groups, the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces of the Central Asian Region, the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces, the Peacekeeping Forces, and the Collective Aviation Forces. Every year we conduct six to eight different military and special trainings. In the field of combating challenges and threats in the CSTO format, international operations are carried out: anti-drug operation “Channel”, operation “Illegal” for combating illegal migration, “Mercenary” operation for combating terrorism, and others. In general, the power component in the CSTO is sufficient to solve the tasks. But we, of course, give priority to political means. This norm is recorded in the Article 3 of the Charter of our organization. And I would like to draw attention to this fact.
The CSTO has taken its place in the system of international organizations, structures, unions that deal with security issues. We work closely with UN agencies, primarily in the fight against terrorism, the fight against drugs, and for peacekeeping purposes. We work well with the OSCE. We have partnership with the CIS, SCO, good relations with the International Committee of the Red Cross. That is, the CSTO has integrated itself into the international security system and we have taken our niche.
If they say "you haven’t fought with your union anywhere," but that’s good. Stability was ensured in the CSTO responsibility zone and such events were not allowed. This already indicates that the organization is fulfilling its tasks. If military operations were allowed, it would mean that we failed our main mission. Now and in the future, the organization will be able to provide a guaranteed response to any attempts to destabilize the situation, violate peace and security in its area of responsibility. Today the situation in the CSTO area of responsibility is much more stable than in many other regions of the world. This is a merit of each of our state and organization as a whole.
— Can this stability and strength of the organization attract new members to the CSTO?
— Of course, this is one of the attractive landmarks of the organization. Now we have reached the stage of the practical launch of the CSTO partners and observers mechanism. We hope that there will be organizations and countries that will already legally act as our partners and observers. The ground is almost ready for this. Now we have many friendly countries and organizations. Now, the constitutional documents have been adopted on the introduction of the institution of observer and partner of the CSTO and the process of ratification of these legislative changes by the parliaments is nearing completion. All states except the Republic of Tajikistan have completed ratification. We are waiting for these actions from the Republic of Tajikistan. After this, it will be possible to proceed to the next stage of work on the formation of the good-neighborly relations belt. By the way, this will be one of the issues of the upcoming CSTO Ministerial Council meeting. We’ll considerate further steps to implement the status of partner and observer of the CSTO.
The observer status at the CSTO provides for the opportunity to study the open regulatory legal framework of the organization, the experience and practice of its activities, to attend meetings of CSTO bodies, events held in the CSTO format. The CSTO partner is given broader powers, including, in particular, the right to accede to international treaties concluded within the framework of the CSTO, to participate and speak in an advisory capacity at meetings of the organization’s bodies, to directly participate in the trainings of the forces and means of the collective security system, as well as in operations and operational preventive events. Moreover, in accordance with the adopted documents, potential partner states and observer states must meet the following criteria: be members of the UN, have diplomatic relations with all CSTO member states, and with regard to potential partners, and additionally not to be in a state of armed conflict with other states.
— Who do you still see as the first of the countries in the status of observer or partner? Are there any applications from any countries?
— The time has not come yet for applications, because the issue has not yet been ratified. When we finish ratification, we will already have full legal right to put this format into practice. Of course, there are inspiration and plans. I spoke about this at a meeting with the heads of states and with the ministers of foreign affairs, when I visited the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Belarus. We discussed this topic with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov. Unfortunately, trips to other countries were canceled. But we will return to this conversation. We discussed possible partners, observers. This conversation will continue at the meeting of the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers, which will be held via videoconference on May 26.
—That is, there are already specific candidate countries that want to receive this status? The same Republic of Uzbekistan, which was already a member of the CSTO before 2012, can it become the member again?
— The Article 19 of the CSTO Charter stipulates that "any state that shares its goals and principles and is ready to accept the obligations contained in this Charter and other international treaties and decisions operating within the Organization can become a member of the Organization." But the expansion of the military-political bloc itself must be approached very judiciously, carefully and steady. I think this is also a prospect. But the question is not immediate. The expansion of the bloc can and should be carried out through the institute of partners and observers, which is now on the agenda.
Since the conversation specifically about the Republic of Uzbekistan has begun, I will say more from myself. I am well acquainted with this beautiful country and I know what dynamic and progressive changes are taking place there. The country has a great perspective. They have good relations with all CSTO member states and have experience in our bloc. The Republic of Uzbekistan fully meets the criteria that I spoke about. If there is a corresponding interest on the part of Tashkent, various options for interaction can be discussed, including taking into account the opportunities that provide the status of CSTO partner and observer at the CSTO.
— On May 9, we all celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Alas, because of the coronavirus pandemic it was without a traditional parade on the Red Square. There was only its aviation part. Before the pandemic, there was information that the military units of the CSTO countries would take part in the traditional Victory Day parade on the Red Square. The parade has been rescheduled. Does the participation in the parade, which will now take place at another time, remain in force?
— All the CSTO states were very seriously preparing for the celebration of May 9th. For all of us, this is a great national holiday, especially the anniversary date. In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory in all the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, they pay tribute to veterans and bow down their heads to the memory of those who gave their lives for the freedom and independence of their homeland, valiantly fought for Moscow and Leningrad, Kiev and Minsk, Stalingrad and Kursk, the Baltic states and the Republic of Moldova, liberated the countries of Europe and took Berlin.
But, as we see, the pandemic has made some adjustments. The parade in Moscow was also rescheduled. In preparation for it, indeed all CSTO states have confirmed their willingness to send their military units to the parade in Moscow. And their training was organized in the capitals of states. I am sure that the parade will take place. The date of parade will depend on the situation. The decision, of course, will be made by the leadership of the Russian Federation. In my opinion, at least two dates can be considered - on June 24, when the very first parade took place in 1945, this would be symbolic. And if the epidemiological situation allows, that would be great. You can consider the beginning of September - the day of the end of World War II. It would also be symbolic. Other dates are possible, of course. I repeat: the decision on the timing and format of the parade will be made by the leadership of Russia.
May 9, of course, did not keep out of us. In all our countries, they paid tribute to the fallen soldiers and veterans. All CSTO Heads of State congratulated citizens with this great holiday. And they did not remain without a military parade in the CSTO. A full-fledged military parade with military equipment was held in the capital of the Republic of Belarus, the hero city of Minsk, and air parades were held in 47 cities of the Russian Federation and at its military bases, including in the CSTO’s common collective security system — in the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan. And in the evening in Moscow, Minsk and Bishkek, festive fireworks were fired.
— What do you think of statements in the West when the role of the Soviet Union in defeating fascism is deliberately hushed up?
— You know, in the same USA and European countries, different statements are made about the role of the USSR in the Great Victory. Along with the ridiculous lies, there are fair, truthful statements - and at the highest level. But, unfortunately, there are attempts to revise the results and causes of the outbreak of war and the role of the USSR in the defeat of fascism in this war. Including positions are expressed when the USSR, along with Germany, is accused of starting this war. It cannot be called anything other than a lie.
Of course, such calls must be answered. And the tactics chosen for this — both in Russia and in other CSTO states — is very correct - to counter the falsification of history based on official documents, archival photos and filming. You must not only discuss, but spread the facts. In this case, it is difficult to argue with the historical truth. Those who want this can, of course, continue to shout loudly, but still there must be arguments.
It is important to fight this, it is important to remember, it is important to continue to inform citizens about the contribution of the USSR to the Great Victory over fascism. We keep the memory of the feat of our peoples and consider it our sacred duty to uphold the historical truth about the Great Patriotic War, to stop attempts to rewrite history and the glorification of fascism. The CSTO website has created a special section entitled “75 Years of the Great Victory — We Won Together”, which hosts a virtual photo exhibition on the contribution of the CSTO member states (former Soviet Union republics) to Nazi Germany, publishes materials on the exploits of the heroes of the World War II from all countries, members of the CSTO.
We are actively cooperating in the framework of the Russian chairmanship of the CSTO with the Russian Foreign Ministry to promote truthful materials about the war. Over four months of this year, our information resource “Allies.CSTO” has prepared and published more than 35 such articles and reports. A banner dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory has been placed on the building of the CSTO Joint Staff in Moscow. And this is symbolic, since here, on Leningradsky Prospekt 41, where the Moscow airfield was located at the time, the "Act on the Unconditional Surrender of Germany" was delivered from defeated Berlin early in the morning of May 9, 1945.
On the eve of the Victory Day, the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly adopted an appeal to the parliaments of the Council of Europe member states on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory over Nazism in the World War II. In the appeal it called for legislative measures to counteract the revival and promotion of Nazism and its manifestations in modern Europe , to defend the historical truth about the World War II and suppress attempts to revise its results, to belittle the decisive role of the peoples of the Soviet Union in the Great Victory.
— How is the CSTO countries cooperating in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic? How is the organization itself experiencing a pandemic? Are there any employees infected with COVID-19?
— A pandemic is a very serious threat to our countries. This is not fully within the competence of the CSTO; we after all have a military-political organization. Nevertheless, we are not staying away from this threat. From the very beginning, when the pandemic was just starting, I had a conversation with the head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova. Then they established a readiness - if there is a need, the CSTO, as a military-political organization, will fully utilize its resources to combat the pandemic. This is not yet required.
I had telephone conversations with the secretaries of the Security Councils of the CSTO member states on the situation with the spread of coronavirus. We exchanged views on the current situation and the measures taken to combat the pandemic in each state that is part of the organization. We also agreed to continue consultations to develop collective response measures in the event of a sharp deterioration in the situation in the CSTO responsibility zone.
Within the framework of preventive measures, the capabilities of the CSTO Crisis Response Center are used, close interaction with the ministries and departments of the CSTO member states is organized, daily monitoring of the spread of coronavirus infection in the collective security regions is carried out.
In April, an out-of-schedule consultation of the heads of the military medical services of the defense departments of the CSTO member states took place at the Crisis Response Center via video-conferencing. Upon the event, Russian experts shared the latest developments on the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 infection, spoke about the experience gained during the provision of assistance in Italy and Serbia.
New realities that are now developing in the CSTO area of responsibility under the influence of the pandemic will be considered during the upcoming May 26 meeting of the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers.
Of course, a pandemic is a new threat. But the legal field of the CSTO allows you to respond to this type of threat. There are opportunities within the existing regulatory framework and the existing system to respond to a pandemic.
— What help did the CSTO countries give each other in the fight against the pandemic?
— The CSTO legal framework provides for such emergency assistance mechanisms. We are ready for this, we know the picture in all our states, every day we update the data. Within the framework of the CSTO, there are mechanisms for providing assistance in case of appropriate treatment. There is an option on a bilateral basis, when the state seeks help directly from another and receives it. There is an option when several CSTO states provide assistance to another member of the organization in a consolidated manner. The second option was not needed. Assistance was provided through bilateral contacts.
— How does the CSTO executive office suffer a pandemic?
— Of course, we have taken measures to counter the pandemic in Moscow. Back in March, the first thing we did, even before the announcement of measures by the authorities, sent all senior employees to work remotely. There are few of them, people are well-deserved, with great professional experience. They are still working in this mode.
The CSTO working bodies - the Secretariat and the CSTO Joint Staff are working on a separate plan in accordance with the order on the prevention of coronavirus infections. A set of antiviral measures has been planned and implemented. As practical steps, employee business trips have been temporarily canceled. A special regime was introduced, it was decided to exclude events in the buildings of the CSTO Secretariat and the Joint Staff with the participation of representatives of member states of the organization and departures of employees of the CSTO Secretariat and the Joint Staff outside Moscow. Now most of the employees are transferred to a remote mode of operation. A minimum of employees is attracted to the workplace. Face-to face meetings are not held. We use video calling.
The measures taken made it possible to minimize the likelihood of coronavirus infection of our employees and their families. Today they are all capable of fulfilling their tasks. Fortunately, we have not employees infected with coronavirus. But we continue to stay relevant and remain on edge.
— Have you had any talks in video mode? Which platform do you use? Is it safely?
— It is a good question. Of course, we consider the issue of security when conducting events online. Now, for example, we are communicating with you and at the same time in a mode of video-conference communication there is a meeting of the Permanent Council of the organization. Unclassified issues and documents are discussed. There is a secure system for conducting video conference calls with all our states on the basis of the CSTO Crisis Response Center.
— After taking office, you have already met with the presidents of Russia and the Republic of Belarus, as well as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. What were you talking about? What tasks have they set for you?
— A wide range of current issues of the organization’s activities was discussed with the heads of states. They are informed about the implementation of the decisions of the November (2019) session of the Collective Security Council and the CSTO statutory bodies, as well as the deployment of work to fulfill the priorities proposed by Russia for the period of the organization’s chairmanship. Upon the talks, support was expressed for all steps aimed at strengthening the CSTO and increasing the effectiveness of its work in the interests of all participating countries. One of such steps is the expansion of foreign policy activities, the strengthening of cooperation with international organizations and interested countries. As I said the corresponding decision on CSTO partners and observers has been made. It is necessary to determine the countries, build specific work and form a good-neighborly relations belt around our military-political bloc.
We attach great importance to the development of political cooperation in the format of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly. At present, the Assembly's partners in inter-parliamentary relations are Serbia and Afghanistan. Work to expand such ties is planned to continue.
The meetings also discussed prospects for the development of the forces and means of the collective security system and the improvement of the crisis response system. We have prepared a Plan for the Development of Military Cooperation of the CSTO Member States for 2021–2025 for submission to the statutory bodies.
We discussed the military component and specifically the combat training of the Collective Forces. In 2020, it is planned to conduct a series of joint trainings, the most important of which are: command-and-staff training with the CSTO CRRF “Interaction-2020”, a training with reconnaissance forces and means “Search-2020” in the Republic of Armenia, and a command and staff trainings “Indestructible Brotherhood-2020” with the CSTO peacekeeping forces in the Republic of Belarus, trainings with special force formations of the CRRF CSTO “Cobalt-2020” in the Republic of Tajikistan.
A set of measures to counter security challenges and threats was also discussed with the heads of states.
The Collective Action Plan of the CSTO member states provides for joint activities in the field of preventing and combating terrorism. It is planned to carry out an anti-terrorist complex of operational and preventive measures under the code name "Mercenary".
The anti-drug operation "Channel" will be carried out. The CSTO Secretariat together with the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs is developing a draft Anti-Drug Strategy of the CSTO member states for 2021-2025.
In addition, they are planning "Illegal" operation to suppress illegal migration and "Proxy" operation to combat crimes in the field of information technologies.
Another area of activity is the development of the CSTO peacekeeping potential in the interests of the United Nations. At present, issues are being worked out with relevant UN committees on the practical involvement of the CSTO peacekeeping forces in UN peacekeeping operations. Along with this, there is a need to create a Basic Center for the Training of Peacekeeping Units according to the UN standards.
We attach great importance to the development of military-economic cooperation with the CSTO member states. We intend to actively work in this direction.
Plans were also discussed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory in the Great Patriotic War. This is one of the most important events this year. I repeat once again that it is necessary to uphold the truth about the Great Victory, to oppose all attempts to falsify history. This is one of the main goals of our work.
In general, the meetings held are very important for building up the fruitful work of both the CSTO Secretariat and all bodies of the organization. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, meetings with the leadership of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan were postponed to a later date. But I am sure that all meetings will take place and will contribute to improving the effectiveness of the CSTO.
— As you already said, the pandemic made adjustments to the work of the CSTO. Did it touch on the schedule of trainings of the CSTO countries, which were planned before the pandemic?
— One must understand the importance of the trainings. This is the highest form of preparation of the armed forces and power structures for the joint actions. We hope that we will be able to carry out, if not all of them, then most of them. It was planned to hold eight joint trainings of the CSTO countries. All of them are planned for September - October. Traditionally, they always take place upon this period. So far we have not canceled them and preparations are proceeding on schedule. Of course, we will proceed from the situation. If it becomes favorable, we will conduct trainings according to plans. If there are real threats to the life and health of the participants in the trainings, the trainings will have to be postponed and rescheduled.
— And how do you assess the current level of interaction between the armed forces and other security agencies within the CSTO?
— I rate it as very high. Over the 18 years since the founding of the CSTO, tremendous work has been done to strengthen the interaction of all the security agencies of our states. The path has gone from interaction on individual tasks, as a rule, on a bilateral basis to a higher level - multilateral comprehensive interaction of the armed forces and other security agencies.
This is clearly seen in the example of military cooperation. We started by working out the regulatory framework for cooperation, individual cooperation measures of the armed forces, and the creation of regional groups on a bilateral basis.
Today we are already at a qualitatively different level of interaction. In 2004, the CSTO Joint Staff was formed. It began to coordinate military cooperation to solve all the practical problems associated with the formation, functioning and use of collective security forces and means. The CSTO collective forces were further developed, and in 2009, the CRRF was formed, which included the most combat-ready formations and units of the armed forces and special forces. A system for training the CSTO collective forces has been built. In this system special attention is paid to the preparation of the CRRF.
Joint operational and combat training events and joint trainings are held annually. This is an important and effective mechanism for improving interaction. The operational and strategic trainings "Combat Brotherhood" are held against the general background of the military-political situation and according to a single plan. At the same time, as part of these trainings, a joint training under the codename “Interaction” is held annually with the CSTO CRRF, with the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces of the Central Asian region training under the name “Rubezh” is held, with the CSTO peacekeeping forces, the “Indestructible Brotherhood” training is held. The “Cobalt’ trainings are regularly held with the formations of special forces of the CSTO CRRF. In 2019, about 12,000 people took part in all of these trainings.
An integral part of the interaction of the armed forces and other security agencies of our states is a joint training system. As part of the training and retraining of specialists at universities of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Emergencies, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, about 1,500 people from the CSTO member states are trained on an annualized basis on concessional terms or for free. On similar conditions, students and cadets from the CSTO countries are trained in specialized universities in the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Kazakhstan.
An important area of interaction between the armed forces and other security agencies is military-technical cooperation, in the framework of which we have already reached the level of formation of interstate programs. Mechanisms are being improved to provide emergency military-technical assistance to the CSTO member states.
However, to say that everything has already been done is too early. Life itself makes us go further, improve and build up military cooperation, and work out new mechanisms for ensuring collective security. And, in particular, we have already begun work on the creation of integrated military systems - information intelligence one and others. This is a perspective, and this is a new level of interaction.
— Given the coronavirus epidemic, will some training be repurposed and aimed at developing methods to combat a danger as a pandemic and a biological threat?
— The purpose and tasks of the CSTO have not changed, so there is no need to repurpose the trainings. But some of the focus of the trainings will be clarified. And the CSTO Joint Staff is oriented towards this. During the conduct of military trainings, greater attention will be paid to the medical support of military contingents, the protection of military personnel from such threats, and the actions of military medical specialists and units during combat operations. We plan to work out these issues more substantively in trainings.
— Now they say a lot that our world after the pandemic will no longer be the same as before. And how do you assess the prospects and what, in your opinion, will need to be changed in the work of the CSTO?
— Yes, now there are such points of view that a pandemic will have a huge impact on all spheres of society and after it the world will be different. Such statements were made by chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and a number of other politicians. With all due respect to these authoritative statesmen, I see no reason for such global conclusions. Let us leave aside the philosophical statement about the immutability of human nature. But let’s try to answer a narrower question: what will change in the world in a big way from the point of view of the CSTO? Our organization is a military-political bloc. We focus primarily on the international and regional military-political situation. I do not see weighty arguments that it will somehow change significantly and even more dramatically after the pandemic. Yes, there were certain hopes and attempts to reduce the degree of military-political tension and aggressiveness, to move away, at least temporarily, from confrontation and to unite countries and alliances of states in the face of a common threat. Relevant initiatives have been put forward by Russia. But these calls do not receive a proper response from the leading countries of the world. That is, it is not necessary to hope that after the pandemic the strategic goals of the states, their approaches and the military-political situation on an international, regional scale will change significantly.
The same applies to the CSTO area of responsibility. Yes, a pandemic makes its impact. But what is changing big in the Central Asian, Caucasian or East European regions? In military-political terms, significant changes are not seen.
Of course, a pandemic will have a great negative impact on the economy and social sphere of most states. To a different extent, but this will affect the CSTO states. We need to take this into account and adjust the activities of the CSTO for the future.
Why should we do it? Social sphere and economy are interconnected. Obviously, a subsidence of the economy will reduce the welfare and social security of a large number of citizens in many countries. In addition to the existing ones, a lot of people around the world will lose their wealth and work. Of course, this situation is breeding ground for the growth of drug trafficking and crime in general, the development of illegal migration, extremism and the intensification of terrorist organizations. We must take into account the possible growth of these threats in the activities of the CSTO. And this year we will carry out operations "Channel", "Illegal", "Mercenary". Of course, you need to think about the future, paying more attention to these threats. I am sure that these realities and assessments will be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the CSTO Foreign Ministers Council on May 26.
— What is the situation with strengthening the border with Afghanistan to prevent terrorists from entering the territory of the CSTO?
— The situation in the region and on the border remains tense. The threat of the possible use by international terrorist organizations of the peculiarities of the Tajik-Afghan border section in order to infiltrate the territory of the CSTO countries remains relevant today. Today, Afghanistan is a place where various terrorists seek to find refuge, and above all, participants in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East. The Islamic State terrorist organization, which achieved the greatest influence in the southeastern Afghan provinces, was no exception. Despite measures taken by government forces, a significant portion of Afghan territory is still controlled by the gangs of the radical Islamic Taliban movement.
The aggravation of internal political contradictions after the presidential elections held in September 2019 also has a negative impact on the development of the situation in Afghanistan. The opposition’s struggle with the current president significantly reduces the ability of the Afghan security forces to neutralize gangs and helps to strengthen the influence of radical Islamist and terrorist groups.
In order to improve the situation in this region, on November 28, 2019, at a meeting of the CSTO, the List of additional measures aimed at reducing tensions in the Tajik-Afghan border was approved. The document is a set of political, military measures, as well as measures to counter the challenges and threats to regional security. All of them are aimed at creating conditions for strengthening the border of the Republic of Tajikistan with Afghanistan, as well as for creating an environment of stability and security in the Tajik-Afghan border.
Along with this, in the interests of increasing the potential of the border troops of the Republic of Tajikistan in this area, with the participation of Organization member states, a draft CSTO Interstate Program is being developed to strengthen sections of the Tajik-Afghan border. The proposals for the project were agreed on the goals, objectives, timing and stages of the formation of the draft program.
We believe that the implementation of the List of additional measures aimed at reducing tensions in the Tajik-Afghan border, as well as the Interstate Targeted Program for Strengthening Tajik-Afghan Border Sections, will have a positive impact on issues of strengthening the protection of the Tajik-Afghan section of the state border of the Republic of Tajikistan.
— Would the military base of Russia in the Republic of Belarus contribute to strengthening the security of the CSTO?
— This issue relates primarily to the sphere of bilateral Russian-Belarusian cooperation. I would like to note that it is developing very dynamically, on a planned basis, and is characterized by a developed system of interaction between the General Staffs, the branches of the armed forces, and military educational institutions.
It was not by chance that I dwelled on the topic of interaction between the military departments of the two countries, because it is directly related to the formation of the CSTO collective security system, one of the key elements of which is the Russian-Belarusian regional group of troops (forces) in the East European collective security region. Its structure, composition, equipment with weapons and military equipment, as well as combat readiness provide the solution to all problems in this direction. The air defense of units and formations is carried out by forces and means of the Unified Regional Air Defense System of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.
In connection with the foregoing and given the current level of technology development, it can be concluded that a high degree of readiness and mobility of troops intended for joint operations can ensure military security in the East European collective security region without deploying additional military infrastructure and creating a Russian military base on the territory The Republic of Belarus. And as far as I know, now there is no the issue of deploying a military base of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Republic of Belarus on the political agenda of these two states.
— Will they strengthen the CSTO air base in the Kyrgyz Republic?
— The Russian “Kant” air base on the territory of the Kyrgyz Republic was created in order to maintain peace and stability in the Central Asian CSTO collective security region, to control airspace and to solve the tasks of ensuring military security of the CSTO member states, including the repulsion of external military aggression and air support of the actions of the CSTO troops (Collective forces) during joint anti-terrorist operations.
By agreement with the authorized bodies, the air base can be involved in the tasks of joint combat alert air defense. A wide range of these tasks clearly demonstrates how important the role of this aviation component is.
The development of the tasks of the airbase is carried out on the basis of plans for joint training of command and control bodies and the forces and means of the collective security system and are widely used during the joint CSTO trainings in the region. Therefore, serious work is being done to increase the combat readiness of the air base, improve the flight skills of personnel and develop infrastructure.
In this regard, the reconstruction of the runway and the improvement of the navigation equipment of the airfield are carried out, which allows, if necessary, to strengthen the air group in the collective security region in the short term.
Particular importance is given to the technical equipment of the air base. The air base is equipped with modern aviation equipment, which will significantly expand the range and effectiveness of the tasks performed, increase the intensity of flight crew training.
Thus, the systematic strengthening of the Russian air base as an aviation component of the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces of the Central Asian region significantly expands the ability to respond to various crises and contributes to maintaining peace and stability in the region.
— Does the CSTO consider the likelihood of a military conflict with NATO? Are countries of the organization preparing for a such risk?
— First of all, the objectives of the CSTO are the strengthening of peace, international and regional security and stability, the collective defense of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states, the priority of which member states give priority to political means.
At the same time, in accordance with the Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty, if one of the participating states is subjected to aggression (an armed attack that threatens security, stability, territorial integrity and sovereignty), it will be considered by the participating states as aggression (armed attack threatening security, stability, territorial integrity and sovereignty) to all CSTO member states.
Regarding the likelihood of a military conflict with NATO, there is no immediate threat of a military conflict with NATO. Even if there are disagreements, differences in approaches to solving major international problems and challenges, there are no grounds for a such conflict. Moreover, we hope that the political elite and the society of NATO states have the same understanding as we have of the global catastrophic nature of such a conflict.
At the same time, the CSTO has an understanding of the complexity of the emerging military-political situation both on the European continent and in the world as a whole. Any situations associated with its change are monitored and carefully analyzed. The buildup of NATO’s military power and military infrastructure near the borders of the CSTO, the intensity and scale of joint maneuvers (up to 40 major military trainings are held annually) cannot but cause concern.
All this objectively requires an adequate reaction of the CSTO and constant readiness to respond to possible crisis situations. In this regard, political and diplomatic response measures are being developed, the military component of the organization is being strengthened, ongoing work is being done to increase the combat capabilities of the CSTO troops (Collective Forces) and improve their command and control system.
It should be emphasized that all these measures are aimed solely at ensuring collective security, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the CSTO member states.