In conditions of NATO expansion in the sphere of Russian interests, aggravation of geopolitical concurrence for access to Central Asian energy resources and world instability caused by the global economic recession the Russian administration is focusing efforts on building up the military components of integration processes on the post-Soviet space. Right after the August war 2008 with Georgia the president of Russia Dmitry Medvedev has pointed out the necessity «to intensify military cooperation» within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The implementation of this idea started in 2009. There was this year a series of CSTO summits with participation of seven states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. A final chord was a session of CSTO which took place on the 14th of July when the presidents of these states signed the agreement on creation of Collective Forces of Operative Reaction (CFOR) within the CSTO.
The issue on the CSTO conversion to the full-fledged political-military organization is being discussed for about 4 years already. But a momentum to implement practical steps in this direction was Russian-Georgian war in August, 2008 after which it was decided to escalate a military component of the CSTO. Officially this issue was publicly declared on February, 4th this year at the Moscow summit of the CSTO members-countries . In the final declaration it was said, that the serious military potential was accumulated in immediate proximity to the CSTO area of responsibility. It was also said, that CSTO members call the NATO countries to weigh all possible aftereffects of alliance expansion to the Orient and deployment of new anti-missile defense positions nearby the CSTO frontiers. In the final part of declaration of this meeting it has noted been, that CFOR forces were created to repel military aggression, to carry out special actions in the context of struggle against terrorism, the organized crime and drug traffic and also to liquidate emergency situations and catastrophes.
«These issues under the competence of CFOR and we have agreed that it will be serious, sufficient forces, well equipped, obtaining advanced military engineering, and very effective. Their battle potential will be not worse, than that of North Atlantic forces», - Dmitry Medvedev has illustrated . Russia will transmit to CFOR structure one airborne division and a landing-assault brigade (nearby 8000 soldiers). Kazakhstan will be represented in CFOR by a landing-assault brigade (up to 4000 soldiers); other allies will transmit in the general disposal one battalion each .
As a Spokesmen for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has informed, «we create the military structure for security of Central Asia in case of external attacks» .
CSTO summit found out in June 2009, that the leaders are not going to stop half-way. The CSTO Secretariat together with Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to consolidate an integration breakthrough by creation of a military strike group in Central Asia which should complete the Russian-Belarus and Russian-Armenian military formations already existing in the framework of CSTO. At present, the new strike group includes military formations of five countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The creation of the Central-Asian military group meets Moscow aspiration to make CSTO alliance equal to military power of NATO.
The last edition of the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation, recently approved by D. Medvedev, stresses that Moscow considers CSTO «as the main instrument, designed to resist regional challenges and threats of political-military and strategic character». In this document it is pointed out, that the struggle for energy resources in the Caspian Sea and in Central Asia regions military conflicts are possible. The military balance near to frontiers of the Russian Federation and its allies could be broken at any time.
The signing agreements on CFOR creation of on June, 14th, 2009 still cannot be spoken about its final registration because of the presidents of CSTO member-countries should sign other documents, concerning the forces structure of the group.
According to CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha, effective strength of CFOR will constitute within the limits of 20000 people. These military units will be placed on permanent dispositions at home permanent bases and in case of need would be redeployed by air to the region of operation .
The operational decision about military use of CFOR will be made by the CSTO Secretariat with the consent the governments of the CSTO countries. The Secretariat will designate the commander of particular operation apparently, from out of military chiefs of the country where the given operation will be conducted.
Deployment planning, combat training and provision of CFOR forces are assigned to the CFOR headquarters which will be disposed in Moscow. Decisions to conduct particular operations will be made on the basis of consensus.
N. Bordyuzha is assured, that, despite of a number of divergences between the CSTO member-countries, CFOR would be an effective instrument to guarantee stability in Central Asia.
It is supposed to use CFOR to localize confrontations, settle border disputes and prevent terrorist attacks and struggle against drug-traffic. But these forces will be applied only when national military forces of the CSTO member-countries encounter difficulties .
It is natural, that solution to any conflict situation will come true all over again by political means. If they fail to and armed aggression poses a threat territorial integrity of the CSTO countries CFOR could be involved to defend allies.
To repel large-scale external aggression CSTO is planning to create another military formation – Collective Forces for Rapid Deployment (CFRD). At present the CSTO Secretariat is busy developing legislation on crossing the borders of the allied states. This group will include large troop formations of military combat readiness .
The Trans-Caucasian and European military directions are already protected by the Russian-Armenian and Russian-Belarus forces. The current order of the day is to settle a question of Central Asian security. As well as in the case of CFOR, the main striking forces will be in the places for permanent deployment. The questions of their equipment and combat training will be decided by national commands. Joint operations of CFOR/CFRD will be planned by the CSTO Staff Headquarters . For CFRD are planned to include the tank and artillery units, as well as the naval forces of the Caspian CSTO states.
Effective strength of future military CFRD group this not been spoken about but if to take into account that in the Russian-Belarus military group includes all military units of Belarus and Russian troops on the western direction than the five-sided military fist in Central Asia can became impressive. According to the Kremlin point of view on CSTO, planned the CSTO military group that will be formed in Central Asia must be comparable to NATO.
Meanwhile, as the reviewers say, the most vulnerable point in Moscow plans on reinforcement of military cooperation in the Central Asia with its CSTO allies. As is known, there were difficulties in implementation of the smaller project – CFOR. Russia had to persuade Tajikistan and to pay attention to separate opinion of Uzbekistan that refused to give its units it constant command of CFOR. Tashkent declared that it’ll take part only in some operations of own choosing.
There were difficulties with Belarus either. But this issue has also been settled. Alexander Lukashenko has left his initial evasive position concerning CFOR and agreed to their creation, as well as to participation of Belarus contingent in them .
Here it is necessary to note, that before transforming CSTO into the full-fledged military-political block, leaders of CSTO countries should think of how to make their membership in CSTO comply the national legislations. The matter is that in constitutions of some CSTO member-countries prescribes non-participation of national armed forces in military alliances. Time will show whether is possible for allies to settle this question.
It must be said, that Russia does take steps towards it’s the allies. It includes expansion of the military assistance to the CSTO countries. According to Bordyuzha's statement, Russia and the CSTO member-countries have agreements on arms deliveries on favorable terms which are successfully realized. Besides as the CSTO Secretary-General has noted, within the framework of cooperation CSTO national armies take free-of-charge military training in the Russian military schools. Under these agreements about 800 military men from the CSTO states come to study in Russia annually.
It should be noted, that military cooperating of Russia with the CSTO countries is based on the following principles:
1. Organization and realization of joint actions on combat trainings of armed forces with a view of achieving their operative compatibility.
2. Forming of CSTO peacekeeping contingent. To achieve these CSTO participants should ratify a number of documents in this field and detach units that should enter collective peacekeeping forces. If such activity is successful CSTO can offer its peacekeeping capabilities to the United Nations.
3. Continuation of development of normative legislative base for legalization of joint CSTO air defense system.
4. Expansion of Russian military-technical cooperating with the CSTO countries. At present the work on a draft program on military and economic cooperation of CSTO states up to 2015 is in progress.
As to CSTO-NATO relations it should be noted, that North Atlantic alliance tried not to recognize the existence of CSTO until recently. It can be explained only by the fact that the NATO administration has its own vision of the global alliance role and the role on the Eurasian continent that is to strengthen expansion of its political-military influence. After the arrival of the new USA administration to the White House Washington’s point of view on CSTO has changed. New approach was described in the article by Zb. Bzhezinsky in Foreign Affairs where he suggested signing an official agreement between NATO and CSTO . This idea found positive response not only in the White House, but also in Burrell. Recently elected Secretary General of NATO former Danish Prime Minister Andrea F. Rasmussen has declared that the alliance plans to consider the proposal of the American politician in the near future. It changes the situation radically because the former NATO administration ignored such idea despite the appeal of CSTO administration to alliance during the last years.
In this connection the CSTO Secretary General N. Bordyuzha in this connection has noted that there are some problems that CSTO and NATO should solve together. First of all they should struggle against drug-traffic and terrorism with the use of corresponding structures of both organizations that now protect the border of Afghanistan. «Only by joint efforts we can really influence the actual state of affairs», – the CSTO Secretary General has emphasized. As he said, now the Secretariat of CSTO develops a project of memorandum on CSTO-NATO relationships. But there are some questions: 1) Will NATO respond to our proposals about joint cooperation? 2) Is it really that NATO has serious interest to CSTO or not?
The CSTO administration assumes the cooperation with NATO to be in the field of data exchange about struggle against drug-dealing and terrorism in the Central Asia states, joint operations on suppression of narkocartels and drug traffic. The discussion of NATO freights transportation through the territory of CSTO states is also possible. The solutions of these problems will strengthen regional security. Thus it is clear, that CSTO does not assume it’s participation in any operations of alliance in Afghanistan and will not send CFOR to combat zones of this country.
However NATO-CSTO cooperation according to Bzhezinsky's version is supposed to have a different form. He assumes that ideological principle must be the heart of this cooperation. In accordance with it he proposes to give the CSTO countries an opportunity in future to enter to each of these blocks separately or both organizations simultaneously. The Official Representative of Russia at NATO Dmitry Rogozin considers that this idea infringes upon Russia national interests in the post-Soviet sphere, and signing of such document will be used to remove of Russian objections against annexation in the North Atlantic alliance new participants from CSTO. As D. Rogozin notes, it confirms NATO’s fundamental purpose is to strengthen alliance global role and its expansion to the Orient .
Rasmussen does not conceal the global rush of NATO to world expansion either. He considers that expansion of NATO is necessary first of all for replacement of alliance forces with the human resources which are in excess in Central Asian states that alliance can provide necessary engineering, armament and regimentals from the West. The matter is that the North Atlantic alliance with two-million armed forces acutely does not have enough human resources for battle operations. Now NATO can hardly support its contingent of 50 thousand soldiers in Afghanistan. Besides the park of helicopters of NATO countries because of its operating characteristics can’t be exploited in mountain-deserted regions of this country.
As is known, Moscow categorically objects to NATO expansion in the post-Soviet countries. The Kremlin considers that NATO expansion to the Orient will provoke Russia to take adequate measures. Russian expert community supposes that after the destruction of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact alliance aimed to expand its influence to Russian sphere of interests.
One can assume that hypothetically symbiosis of NATO and CSTO is possible, but under one condition: the North Atlantic alliance should agree not to expand on the Eurasian space. In Afghanistan NATO should be occupied only with pragmatically problems, instead of struggling against abstract Islamic extremism. These problems include destruction of narkocrops and creation of reliable barriers for their transportation from Afghanistan to the Central Asia and Europe. It can be engaged in joint humanitarian programs. Implementation of these problems will demand significant financial resources which can be found with positive political will of both parties.
Together with the discussions about CSTO-NATO ways of cooperation, practical problems of American military presence at the Central Asia being solved in Washington. According to EurasiaNet portal, the Pentagon is going to deploy in this region the 3rd Group of American Special Operations Force (SOF) that acted in Afghanistan before. As the PR SOF officer captain-lieutenant Fred Quibble has informed, the given variation of regional orientation reflects changing in the general political-military environment of region .
The vague phrase of the American officer means, that in each of Central Asian countries USA armed forces are preparing to carry out the mission on rendering military help to the states of the given region under the program of Foreign International Defense (FID). This program, first of all, implies consulting services to the local military and preparation of national armies for combat operations. But, as it seems, the main task of American forces will be not so much instruction of the local militaries as supervision over political situation in the countries of the given region and military participation in those situations in case they contradict Washington interests.
The order of rendering assistance and its purpose are presented in the instruction of Committee of Headquarters Chiefs. This includes military and peacemaking operations, psychological operations, information exchange, reconnaissance, material and technical support.
At the same time it is necessary to note, that American instructors train local military organizations more than one year. Joint maneuvers are carried out regularly, however discussions about the necessity to deploy the 3rd Group of American special troops in region on the regular basis have just begun. Yes, the danger of penetration of extremists from the neighbor Afghanistan still presents, but at the same time Central Asia countries have significant ability to defend its southern frontiers on their own.
Tracing the history of the 3rd Group which the Pentagon is planning to place in Central Asian countries, shows it has rich battle experience. In 1960’s soldiers and officers of this Group took part in Vietnam war, in 1990’s they participated in Persian Gulf war, later they defended interests of the USA in Western Africa. With the beginning of antiterrorist campaign these commandos had been thrown to Afghanistan. According to western mass-media, the 3rd Group numbers about 1000 fighting man. It is well-armed with small arms, more than 120 grenade launchers, up to 400 blasting devices, 6 airplanes and helicopters and about 100 cars .
The Central Asia initiative of the Pentagon give rise to some questions: whether the American commandos’ activity in Central Asia will be confined to training and how long will they stay here? A legal aspect of the given initiative is unclear. Deployment of foreign troops on the territory of the countries requires the agreement of their parliaments.
The proficiency of American commandos and the history of their activity arouse suspicions that their main objective is reinforcing the American military presence in Central Asia, rather than providing regional security and professional training of the local soldiery. It’s absolutely clear, those USA reinforcements in this region contradicts Russian and Chinese interests. Taking into account that most of the Central Asia countries along with Russia are CSTO members and have CFOR of their own.