The CIS countries, which signed the Collective Security Treaty (CST), organized several joint events in late April. April 23 deputy defense and foreign ministers of the CST countries held a consultative meeting in Alma-Ata. Colonel General Igor Puzanov, State Secretary and Deputy Defense Minister, Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov and General Secretary of the Collective Security Council (CSC) Valery Nikolaenko discussed preparation of the summit of CST countries to be held May 24-25.
April 26 the Committee of Security Councils’ Secretaries of the CST countries discussed the same issues in Yerevan. General Secretary of the CSC Nikolaenko, security councils’ secretaries of Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan Vladimir Rushailo, Amirkul Azimov, Marat Tazhin, and Misir Amyrkulov elected the Russian officials the chair of the committee of security councils’ secretaries of CST countries, and agreed on the agenda and order of business of the upcoming CST countries summit.
The PR service of Russian Security Council reports that CST countries are concerned about the threat of international terrorism and wish to create an integrated system for counteraction to such terrorism. This system will primarily be connected with the formation of regional collective security systems, as well as the organization of collective rapid response forces of CST countries for Central Asia, where a possibility of religious extremist penetration from Afghanistan is the most real.
What will be these forces like? Russian Deputy Security Council Secretary Oleg Chernov says that these forces will include one battalion from each country. Most likely these forces will be mobile, and their strength will total up to 2,000. General Secretary of the CSC Nikolaenko reports that the final decision concerning the organization of a coalition group of forces in Central Asia will be made during the CSC session in Yerevan May 24-25. Representatives of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan agreed with the organization of such forces.
It is already known that the forces will not include the Russian 201st mechanized infantry division, which will soon receive the status of a Russian military base. The Airborne Forces will be in charge of the Central Asian area in the Russian Armed Forces. Operational plans of the Airborne Forces already include possible operations in the zones of potential conflicts in the south of the CIS.
The headquarters of the collective group of forces will be located in a Central Asian republic. The following are several alternative possible locations for the headquarters. One option implies deployment of the regional military command in Dushanbe on the basis of the headquarters of Collective Peacekeeping Forces disbanded in 2000. Dushanbe possesses the military infrastructure sufficient for the new function, including the majority of units and formations of the 201st mechanized infantry division, fuel and lubricants, ammunition depots, communication facilities, airfields, headquarters of Russian border guards group, and command of the Armed Forces of Tajikistan and other security agencies of the country. President Askar Akaev of Kyrgyzstan advocates the arrangement of the headquarters of the coalition group of forces in Bishkek, because according to him, the main possible “hot spots” and potential conflicts are predicted to occur in the Fergana Valley. It is easier to move to the Valley from Kyrgyzstan than from Tajikistan closed with the Pamirs.
The final decision about location of the headquarters of the collective group of forces, the strength of these forces, and their composition will be made by the leaders of CST countries in Yerevan during the upcoming summit. Leaders of CST countries will also discuss other issues of military integration, including the formation of regional groups of forces in the Caucasus and the West European theater. Leaders of CST countries will also discuss the location of the united headquarters of all coalition groups of forces. It is planned to arrange such headquarters in the building of the headquarters for the coordination of military cooperation of CIS countries in Moscow.
Thus, a group of CIS countries continues military political integration efforts, although it is evident that, for instance, without Uzbekistan, a collective security system in Central Asia will be incomplete. One way or another, Moscow will have to interact with Tashkent in parrying the possible intervention of militants and terrorists from Afghanistan. The visit of President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan to Russia scheduled for early May will therefore be very appropriate.
At this point it is also necessary to emphasize that China may possibly join the consolidated forces for counteraction to terrorism. The first meeting of officers of General Staffs of the “Shanghai five” countries April 19 in Bishkek confirms this assumption. Participants of the meeting decided to organize a united antiterrorist center. Almost five years after its establishment, the “Shanghai five” (Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China) has been transformed from a political into a military political organization.
So far it is not known which functions the united antiterrorist center will perform and where it will be located, but the protocol on cooperation in combating terrorism and other kinds of extremism signed in Bishkek says that “Shanghai five” leaders will sign the documents laying the legal foundation for the center June 15 during their fifth anniversary summit in China. Military sources in Bishkek report that, “then the practical implementation of the antiterrorist center idea will begin.” During their summit in Bishkek, the parties already chose certain steps aimed at provision of material and technical assistance to armed forces of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, in the territories of which the main combat operations connected with elimination of terrorists penetrating from neighboring Afghanistan may unfold in summer.
Thus, military counteraction to international terrorism, extremism, and separatism in the CIS acquires specific features, although CIS countries still have a long way to go to achieve a harmonized understanding of a consolidation of military efforts by all CIS members. For example, Georgia, which, like Uzbekistan, quit the CST, has big problems with Chechen terrorists in its territory. It is not accidental that on the way to the summit in Yerevan, Russian Security Council Secretary Rushailo visited Tbilisi and expressed his concern about this problem.
Rushailo also expressed Moscow’s concern about more active operations of terrorists within the territory of Turkey. According to Rushailo, Russia possesses information that “certain legal entities in Turkey are sponsoring extremist and terrorist organizations.” Rushailo also emphasized that despite a number of meetings and negotiations held with the Turkish party, and permanent collaboration between the law enforcement agencies of both countries, terrorists keep acting in Turkey.
Obviously, understanding the importance of work in the framework of the CST, Georgia again expressed its interest in participating in this organization. Georgian Deputy Security Council Secretary, Dzhemal Gakhokidze, was present at the session of the committee of security councils’ secretaries of CST countries in Yerevan, and said that Tbilisi was interested in the maintenance of stability in the Caucasus.
Thus, consolidation of the efforts of CST countries in the formation of regional security systems involves other countries in this process, and serves as a kind of guarantee of their development not only in the military but also in the economic field, because peaceful life is the basis for stable work of industry and business.