On 13 November 2023, the XVI meeting of the Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization's Consultative Coordination Centre for Responding to Computer Incidents (CSTO CCC) was held in Moscow, with the participation of leading experts and representatives of the national authorized bodies for Responding to Computer Incidents of the CSTO member states.
A meeting of the CSTO Collective Security Council was held in Minsk on 23 November.
The heads of states have discussed in detail current problems of international and regional security and the main results of the activities of the CSTO during the inter-sessional period.
A meeting of the heads of the Collective Security Treaty Organization member states under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has begun in Minsk in the narrow format.
On 22 November 2023, in Minsk, a joint meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the Council of Defense Ministers and the Committee of Secretaries of the Security Councils of the CSTO was held. Representatives of the Republic of Armenia did not take part in the meeting.
In accordance with the Action Plan for the implementation of the decisions of the November 20-22 session of the CSTO CSC and the fulfilment of the priority areas of the Organization’s activities, two documents relevant to the stabilization of the situation in the South Caucasus have been developed so far under the chairmanship of the Republic of Belarus.
In an interview with “Sputnik Belarus” agency, Imangali Tasmagambetov praised the Belarus' contribution to the strengthening of the CSTO15.11.2023
In an exclusive interview with Sputnik, the CSTO Secretary General spoke about the CSTO strategy in the conditions of new conflicts, the threat of the third world war and the role of the Republic of Belarus as the Chairman of the Organization in this difficult year.
Next week, on November 23, Minsk will host a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which also includes Russia, the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan, under the chairmanship of the Republic of Belarus.
On the eve of the summit, in an exclusive interview with Sputnik correspondent Olga Demenchuk, the CSTO Secretary General praised the strategic work of the Republic of Belarus for the benefit of all Organization member states. He also explained why it was important to develop the military-industrial complex in modern conditions, whether we should wait for a new migration crisis due to the events in the Gaza Strip, whether the problem of "Afghan heroin trafficking" was still relevant, and answered many other questions of concern.
- In the context of geopolitical changes, many international structures, such as the BRICS and the SCO, are expanding. Recently, the CIS announced that it was ready to admit new countries to its membership. What is the CSTO's position on this issue?
- First and foremost, the Collective Security Treaty Organization is an association of countries aimed at strengthening peace and stability in their area of responsibility and taking concrete measures to that end. We are expanding political dialogue within the CSTO and with other states and associations, increasing military and military-technical cooperation, and jointly countering such challenges and threats as terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, illegal migration and others.
It is important to bear in mind that collective work in the above-mentioned areas implies a very high level of mutual understanding, solidarity and trust between countries. For this reason, we assume that the decision of a country to join the CSTO must be a well-considered one. In addition, the CSTO would see the expediency of accepting new members only if they are prepared to adhere to the basic documents developed within the Organization and to take full account of the collective interests of the member states.
There are also opportunities to participate in the work of the CSTO as partner or observer countries, which allow them to join the Organization's activities in special regimes, but do not grant voting rights. Thus, the CSTO is not a closed club, but the procedure for joining the Organization requires all parties to make a number of serious decisions, primarily at the level of heads of state. In general, political processes in Eurasia are proceeding quite rapidly, and the emergence of new formats of regional cooperation cannot be ruled out.
- Over the past two years, new conflicts have erupted in the world. We have witnessed conflict in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Ukraine, and in early October the conflict in the Middle East broke out. Has the CSTO's strategy changed against the backdrop of these conflicts?
- The CSTO's strategic goal has been and remains to ensure collective security by consolidating the efforts and resources of the CSTO member states, but there has been a certain transformation in the vision of ways to ensure this security.
The peculiarity of modern conflicts is their sudden onset and rapid development. That is, any delay in taking action in the interests of an ally could mean a critical deterioration of the situation. In this connection, serious work is being carried out in the CSTO format to build up analytical and forecasting capacity. The practical sense of this work is that we must gain a deeper understanding of the political, economic, social and other processes taking place in our own and neighboring countries in order to more quickly forecast various scenarios of developments and strive to be proactive.
In addition, a new package of documents on crisis response is being submitted to the forthcoming meetings of the CSTO's statutory bodies to replace the corresponding document adopted earlier. According to the plan, all decisions and measures aimed at supporting allies should be taken much more quickly.
- What trainings will take place in 2024 on the territory of the CSTO member states, what is their idea, on the territory of which states are the maneuvers planned?
- The Organization member states regularly conduct joint trainings to improve the force component. With regard to work in 2024, in accordance with the Plan for joint training of collective security system forces and means, it is envisaged:
- strategic command and staff training of the Joint Staff, the Secretariat and interested ministries and departments of the CSTO member states - on the basis of the CSTO Crisis Response Centre and the control centres of the national bodies authorized to interact with it;
- “Interaction-2024”, a command and staff training with the CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Forces (CRRF), “Search-2024” special trainings with intelligence forces and means, and “Echelon-2024” trainings with logistical forces and means for the CSTO Troops (Collective Forces) on the territory of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan;
- command and staff training with the CSTO Peacekeeping Forces "Indestructible Brotherhood-2024" and a special training with rescue units of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, part of the CSTO Special Forces Formation "Rock-2024", on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- joint training with units of the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces of the Central Asian region, “Rubezh-2024”, on the territory of the Republic of Tajikistan;
- special training of the CSTO CRRF special forces “Cobalt-2024”, on the territory of the Russian Federation.
- In your opinion, how real is the threat of a third world war and what military and political tools are needed to prevent it?
- Since 1945, the system of international relations, and above all the UN system, has been organized in such a way as to prevent a new world war. If this threat had not been perceived as real, there would have been no need for such a construction of international relations, ties and the system of international law. But it was immediately after the end of the Second World War and even, if we talk about the origins of the UN, even before its end. And then, already in the post-war period, the mankind really approached the dangerous boundary most closely, as many experts believe, at the moment of the Caribbean crisis in 1962. Even if we take into account this and only this historical experience, it would be irresponsible to deny the reality of the threat of a third world war. Especially given the effects of globalization and the power of modern weaponry.
And in order to prevent global conflict - as in order to prevent or end smaller armed conflicts - we must also draw on existing historical and political experience. We must apply it to the current reality of a multipolar world and prevent further erosion of the system of international law.
- The world has differently assessed the decision of the Republic of Belarus and Russia to deploy non-strategic nuclear weapons on the Belarusian territory. How do you assess this step?
- This is a sovereign decision of the allied states. And when assessing this decision, one cannot fail to take into account the extent to which nuclear weapons are widely deployed around the world and the statements concerning the security of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus that are made to them from abroad. In my view, all of this once again indicates how important it is for the international community to reflect on the implementation of the principle of the indivisibility of security.
- At present, there are more and more frequent statements that the development of the military-industrial complex of countries is an indicator and guarantor of their sovereignty and, to a large extent, a deterrent. Please express your opinion on this matter.
- Attention to the development of the military-industrial complex, the defense industrial complex in all countries of the world is undoubtedly increasing today. When politicians of some states or associations of states say that issues should be resolved on the battlefield, this cannot but influence the opinion and behavior of other countries.
Those international legal, international political mechanisms that could have ensured a higher level of mutual trust after the end of the Cold War have been destroyed or weakened over the past two or three decades. It is necessary to restore them - where necessary; it is necessary to preserve them - where possible. And we need to create new, modern ones, adequate to the scale of modern threats - this is the most difficult thing. The CSTO and the United Nations cooperation is largely oriented towards solving this task, which is perhaps the most important task for the modern world.
- On 18 October, the Russian State Duma withdrew ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. On 19 October, the Republic of Belarus suspended the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces with regard to Poland and the Czech Republic. Do you consider these steps correct against the background of the aggravation of the situation in the region?
- It seems to me that these steps are caused precisely by the aggravation of the situation, and not only in the region. And especially the desire to prevent further aggravation. It was not Russia and the Republic of Belarus that created the current situation of mistrust.
I would hope that it will not be too long before the world can begin to forge a renewed treaty framework for both the prohibition of nuclear testing and the regulation of conventional forces. But at this point, before NATO countries change their approaches, this is hardly possible.
- Illegal drug trafficking is a long-standing problem. The CSTO countries have always conducted large-scale special operations to block drug transit routes. Is “Afghan heroin trafficking” still a huge problem?
- The specific tasks of the CSTO countries in combating drug trafficking are traditionally associated to the situation in the CSTO zone of responsibility.
The territory of Afghanistan is indeed still a source of very serious problems. Problems from which both the Afghan people and people in many other countries of the world suffer. The long-term actions of the Western allies in Afghanistan have complicated the situation and have not brought us any closer to a positive solution. Today, the CSTO member states are striving to do everything possible to help normalize the situation in that country. Our actions include, among other things, diplomatic and socio-economic measures, but our position on combating drug trafficking, the terrorist threat and the threat of terrorist extremism has been and will continue to be the toughest.
I emphasize that leaving Afghan society to chance will not lead to anything good for the country, the region or the world.
- Illegal migration is another problem. Where do you think the next "migration explosion" caused by the situation in the Gaza Strip could be?
- First and foremost, it is important for the international community to make every effort to end the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip and then to move towards the normalization of Palestinian-Israeli relations. The migration issue is only one, not the only or even the key point that now requires attention in this grave crisis.
You are right that the current events in the Gaza Strip will indeed have an impact on the issue of migration. But especially in the sense that they will complicate, and have already complicated, the ability of states to resolve problems and crises together. We can already see the changes in public sentiment around the world caused by these events. And this is a serious political problem that requires political work, a responsible position of political forces, and not only the actions of law enforcement agencies and special services.
- How do you assess the role of the Republic of Belarus in ensuring collective security in the region?
- I assess it very positively and very highly. This applies both to the overall long-term contribution to the CSTO's activities and to the Chairmanship of the Republic of Belarus in the Organization in this difficult year. As Secretary General, the beginning of whose term of office practically coincided with the beginning of the Belarusian Chairmanship, I am grateful to my colleagues for their support both in the current and strategic work for the benefit of all CSTO states. I think it will be useful if the non-CSTO countries also pay additional attention to the Belarus's position on the search for diplomatic solutions, the search for options to reduce international tension and establish dialogue and cooperation.