Military integration in the CIS is currently developing along two lines: general cooperation within the framework of CIS under the aegis of the staff for coordination of military cooperation, and cooperation of member states of the Collective Security Treaty (CST) signed May 15, 1992. CST member states include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
Both organizations were active in May. Thus, May 18 the CIS Defense Ministers’ council (DMC) met in Baku to discuss issues pertaining to military integration. DMC members summed up results of the joint staff-command exercise “Southern shield of the Commonwealth-2001”, conducted in April. This exercise has become a tradition, but its effect is not so great, particularly as not all CIS countries participate.
During the meeting in Baku, DMC members also spoke about counteraction to terrorism, although did no related decision were made.
Thus, although the meeting in the Azerbaijani capital was held with the participation of 11 CIS countries (only Turkmen delegation was absent), it did not have much actual impact.
This inefficiency can be seen in several fields. For instance, CIS countries sign military collective agreements, but not all member states sign them. During the meeting in Baku, Azerbaijani officials signed only 35% of all proposed documents, Turkmenistan signed 7%, Ukraine 25%, and Georgia 50%. (The CST member states are the most active in this respect. Armenia signed 97% of documents, Belarus 91%, Kazakhstan 97%, Kyrgyzstan 100%, and Russia 100%).
Very often, military agreements in the CIS are not fulfilled. For example, according to documents collective peacekeeping forces from the CIS are operating in Abkhazia. In reality, there are only Russian peacekeepers in the this “hot spot,” and the CIS in general is represented only by flags and observers, the regional number of which is far less than the number of UN and OSCE observers.
In the staff for the coordination of military cooperation, some countries (such as Moldova, Ukraine, and Turkmenistan) are not represented by their officers. The staff organizes military exercises but these are not very effective. The joint staff-command exercise “Southern shield of the Commonwealth-2001” was conducted in Moscow on maps, although the terrorism threat became reality in Central Asia.
Against this background, the events organized in the framework of the CST look very different. CST member states make decisions unanimously and they are far more effective. Thus, between April and May, several meetings of CIS military delegations, in addition to a meeting of the Committee of the Chiefs of General Staff of the CIS were conducted under the CST aegis.
Those participating in these meetings decided to organize a coalition group of forces in the framework of the regional security system in Central Asia. Presidents of CST member states will meet in Yerevan May 25. This will be their first meeting in this capacity. It is planned that Foreign and Defense Ministers, Secretaries of Security Councils, the General Secretary of the CIS Security Council, and officials of inter-state bodies of the CIS will also take part in the summit. Presidents of CST member states plan to exchange their views on a broad circle of problems dealing with the security interests of CST members, including the development of military-political integration, and the improvement of the efficiency of all CST bodies.
Joint measures to counteract international terrorism and other manifestations of extremists will comprise one of the key topics. Participants in the summit plan to sign a political statement.
Specific measures will include the provision of military-technological assistance by CST countries to Tajikistan. Participants in the meeting will also discuss other problems, including the access of militants to Chechnya, the threat by Islamic fundamentalists, not only to Russia but, for example, to Georgia (which is not represented in the CST). Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan are also interesting, particularly given the plans to organize collective rapid-response forces (although Azerbaijan is not a CST member).
It is interesting that, during the DMC meeting May 18, the Azerbaijani Defense Minister proposed the exclusion of Armenia from the CST because it was allegedly an aggressor state. However, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov prevented the scandal. He stated that each CIS country made decisions independently, regarding participation in the CST. Hence, it was not quite correct for one country to call for the suspension of membership of another country.
Ivanov also ruled out Russia’s participation in combat operations against Azerbaijan on the side of Armenia, if such operations occur, “This is out of the question. Russian-Armenian joint combat duty of air defense forces and military cooperation in general is not directed against anyone.” According to Ivanov, Moscow wanted to make all CIS countries feel safe and to pursue a common defense policy.
Thus, Russia is attempting to unite a narrow circle of countries around itself, creating regional security systems in the Former Soviet republics. Along with obvious advantages, such an approach also has drawbacks. For example, Uzbekistan does not belong to the CST system being created in Central Asia, and plans to collaborate with Russia on a bilateral basis. Conflicts in Transcaucasia cannot be resolved without the participation of Azerbaijan and Georgia, which established their own regional military-political association, GUUAM, in alliance with Ukraine, Moldova, and Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile, it is evident that the CIS needs military integration processes (both intensive and slow). Political problems, presence of conflict zones, and military problems proper (armament and combat materiel maintenance, personnel training, and so on) result in CIS countries combining their efforts.