The jubilee summit of member states of the Collective Security Treaty (CST) ended in Moscow on May 14. Its resolutions actually raised the degree of military integration of the six CIS countries, which decided to defend their sovereignty in cooperation, to a new level. One of the main results of the CST summit was that the Collective Security Council decided to transform the CST into the Organization of the CST. The resolution of the Collective Security Council says that a working group “at the level of deputy ministers and directors of relevant ministries and agencies” of the CST member states with participation of the General Secretary of the Collective Security Council will be organized by July 1. By November 1, this group will prepare draft documents regulating activities of the Organization and its bodies “taking into account the legislative base existing within the treaty.”
During the summit Russian President Putin announced that Organization of the CST “will establish interaction with other organizations in the area of provision of security in the world, first of all, with the UN and UN Security Council.” Putin emphasized that “The countries, which have signed the CST, and are now establishing the Organization of the CST, are united not against someone, but against the threats they encounter.”
The Collective Security Council also decided to establish an interstate military command body of the CST. The resolution of the summit states that the group of coordinators consisting of representatives of general (main) staffs of the armed forces of the CST member states will be organized in 2002. This group will organize routine work on the military component of the CST and preparation of decisions dealing with the military development issues.
It is possible to draw a conclusion that the six CIS countries, which dared to take part in a close military and political integration, have finally made up their mind about the form of their future military cooperation. Russia is given the leading role in control over this process. The uniform interstate military command body will be established on the basis of the Russian General Staff headed by General of the Army Anatoly Kvashnin. Military sources report that this body will be fundamentally different from the amorphous structure of the incumbent staff for coordination of military cooperation of CIS countries. The new military system for command of coalition forces of CST member states will exist in the framework of the main operational department of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces and will consist mainly of Russian professional servicemen. Its staff will be relatively small (not more than 50 officers), but if there is close interaction with the main operational department and other departments of the Defense Ministry (international treaty department, department for military cooperation with CIS countries and so on) operational and staff work of the new command body of CIS countries forces will be very efficient.
It is clear why the military command structure stringently controlled by Moscow has been established. In circumstances of NATO eastward expansion and possible long-term presence of the US and NATO forces in Central Asia and Transcaucasia Russia understands that it needs to protect its interests and control the situation in these regions despite its seemingly good relations with the West. It is difficult and expensive for Russia to do this on its own. However, relying on the allies it is possible to organize coalition armed forces quickly and qualitatively enough.
It is known that CST member states did not agree to such integration for a long time. At any rate, now they are ready to make certain concessions to Russia. CST countries actually recognized that Russian General Staff would perform operational command over a part of their national armed forces. This agreement was achieved due to concessions of Russia related to sale of weapons to CST countries at low prices, as well as partially financing of national programs involving development of new kinds of armament and combat materiel, restoration of the effective air defense systems and so on.
Presidents of the CIS countries emphasized this aspect during the summit. For example, during a meeting of the CST council President Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan expressed satisfaction with the resolution according to which CST member states will have a priority in military technological cooperation over the CIS countries that are not CST members. According to Nazarbaev, participants of the CST “will buy weapons and combat materiel at a uniform price.” President Emomali Rakhmonov of Tajikistan expressed satisfaction with the resolution on joint training of personnel and added that over 500 Tajik officers were already undergoing training in Russian higher military educational institutions.
What will be the competence of the CST coalition staff? First, it will command the collective rapid response forces, which will include already not separate battalions but regiments and brigades. Second, the staff will perform operational command over other units of national armed forces ready to act under the uniform plan in a threatened period. The document adopted after the session of the Collective Security Council speaks about the need for the council of defense ministers of the CST member states to plan and take a set of measures to ensure “quick deployment and strengthening of the aviation component of the collective rapid response forces.” The Collective Security Council takes efficient practical functioning of collective rapid response forces “as a step towards establishment of a coalition (regional) group of forces of the Central Asian region of collective security.” Third, in the framework of the uniform national security system the CST coalition staff will command regional staffs of the coalition forces in the East European (Russia-Belarus), Caucasian (Armenia) and Central Asian (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) theaters. Fourth, the CST coalition staff will closely cooperate with international military structures like the staff for coordination of military cooperation of CIS countries, Antiterrorist Center, as well as NATO headquarters, Shanghai organization for cooperation and so on.
CST member states also plan to increase the number of military exercises and staff command exercises. In 2002, they plan to organize at least 10 such exercises. It is known that joint complex tactical theater exercises “South-Antiterror-2002” were organized in April. Units of armed forces of the CST member states are currently taking part in the exercises in the Gorokhovets training center of the Defense Ministry. These exercises include not less than 1,000 servicemen (tank battalion, artillery and rocket launcher divisions, air defense missile batteries, 20 helicopters and six airplanes). It is interesting that Russia bears the main burden of expenditures on these exercises. Military exercises of collective rapid response forces will be organized with Russia’s financial support in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in June. It is also planned to organize regional exercises of the CST forces in Armenia and Belarus.
Thus, military integration of the CST countries is acquiring new quality with an active role of Russia. Time will show how strong this new quality is. At any rate, it is already obvious that a new round of interaction of CST member states and establishment of coalition forces will require opening of new articles of the military budget and assignments for functioning of the CST coalition staff in the CST countries. At any rate, it is possible that Russia will undertake financing of the coalition staff.