The events in Kirghizia changed the schedule of the Rubezh-2005 international exercise, which is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization activities.
The exercise should have begun in Kirghizia on March 29. Yet, according to Vladislav Musaelyan, Head of Military Cooperation Department of CSTO Secretariat, the exercise will begin three days later in Tadzhikistan (April 2-7). As is known, on March 28, President Putin said that the exercise should be launched even if Kirghizia does not take part in it. Putin ordered to begin the exercise according to the plan, stressing that Russia “will not put off anything”. Yet, the exercise has been put off.
Another detail is also puzzling. If the exercise is international, why does only the Russian President decide its destiny? Why do other countries and the CSTO Secretariat keep silent? The Russian Ministry of Defense does not try to hide its major role in the preparation of Rubezh-2005. Yet, the CSTO Secretariat says it is also actively involved in the process.
According to Musaelyan, the CSTO Military Cooperation Department was planning only a command and staff exercise in Kirghizia. It means officers from the four CSTO countries (Russia, Tadzhikistan, Kirghizia and Kazakhstan) were to define with the help of maps the plans and goals of CSTO Rapid Deployment Force. It was planned the commander of the exercise in Bishkek would be Essen Topoyev, the Kirghiz Minister of Defense.
“Now when the Kirghiz Government stepped down, the Ministry of Defense is headed by someone called Isakov. It is a pity that we cannot contact him. However, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, in spite of everything Kirghizia will participate in the exercise in Tadzhikistan,” said Musaelyan. Obviously, it is the Ministry of Defense that maintains a connection with the Kirghiz military authorities, not the CSTO Secretariat.
Anyway, it looks like other parties have “acquiesced” that the exercise will be commanded by the Minister of defense of Tadzhikistan. Musaelyan says he will also command over the active stage of training, planned for April 5-6. It is planned that not only Tadzhikistan officials, but also the Ministers of Defense of Russia and Kazakhstan will be present at the exercise. It is still not clear whether any official from Kirghizia will visit the exercise. According to Musaelyan, a Kirghiz troop will take part in the training. The troop had been sent to Tadzhikistan before the events in Bishkek began. At present, the Kirghiz soldiers together with soldiers from other countries are practicing to perfect their professional skills that they are to show in April. This fact is yet another indication of the histrionic character of the exercise, because usually such joint maneuvers are performed on unknown territory.
After the events in Kirghizia, many people do not take the Collective Security Treaty Organization seriously, thinking the Organization was unable to defend the legal power in Bishkek. Yet, the CSTO officials said such a definition is incorrect. According to the source of WPS agency, Kirghiz President Askar Akayev refused the help of CSTO, and the Rapid Deployment Forces could not be used to restore order in Kirghizia, since it would have been estimated as an intrusion in Kirghizia’s internal affairs. The source said that according to the documents signed by CSTO member-states, the Rapid Deployment Forces should be used to solve problems of quite a different kind, which will be demonstrated in Tadzhikistan.
According to the documents, the Rubezh-2005 exercise will include military operations oriented to prevent armed gangs from entering the country, to block and destroy such units. The exercise will employ more that 3,000 soldiers, more that 100 armor and aircraft units. Russia will send the largest troop to the exercise. It will include a special Rapid Deployment battalion that is part of the 201st motorized rifle division. Moreover, Russia will use Su-24 and Su-25 combat aircraft, and Mi-24 strike helicopters from two air force bases located in Kant (Kirghizia) and Dushanbe (Tadzhikistan).
Apart from the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces, it is planned to employ frontier service troops, law-enforcement authorities and the forces of the Ministry for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Response. The representatives of the CIS Anti-terrorist Centre are invited to join the exercise. Representatives of the CIS Council of the Frontier Guard Commanders and the anti-terrorist organization of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization were invited as observers.
The maneuvers are expected to be very impressive. Yet, it is still doubtful that the CSTO Rapid Deployment Forces can repel terrorists and armed gangs. Contemporary history has never witnessed such a success.