Colonel-General Ivan Babichev, first deputy chief of the Joint command of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, held a three-day command-staff exercise of the Collective rapid deployable force near Alma-Ata this week. Observers took interest in the exercise due to two reasons. Firstly, it was organized in Kazakhstan (far from the headquarters of the Organization, which is located in Bishkek). Secondly, the rapid deployable force conducted a hypothetical operation against gangs on a concrete territory. It turns out that the Organization does not rule out the presence of terrorists near Alma-Ata. It should be noted that not all members of the collective forces were involved (in all, the contingent consists of 11 battalions from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan). Only Major-General Sergei Chernomordin (commander of the collective force), officers of the staff and the Kazakh operational group participated in the exercise.

The military component of the collective force has not been created completely yet. This is why it’s obvious why representatives of the poor members of the organization – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – were not involved. The parties have not yet reached an agreement concerning the financial issues. However, it’s obvious that Russia will be the main donor of the system. The members of the Organization buy weapons at reduced prices. In addition, they have signed the program of military education with Russia. It’s supposed that the Organization will be involved in UN peacekeeping operations.

Nikolai Bordyuzha, Secretary-General of the Organization, said: “Further contacts with the UN will let the Organization use all opportunities of the international community in order to achieve its goals and improve the efficiency of the joint effort.” Moscow is sure that the Organization must cooperate with NATO. Firstly, this concerns drug-trafficking from Afghanistan.

In other words, the Organization has serious plans. However, its military structures have not proven its efficiency yet. At the same time, they could counter drug trafficking on the border with Afghanistan and patrol the border. Why not send the collective force to Abkhazia or Afghanistan? The Organization announced its intention to cooperate with NATO. However, this does not happen. Peacekeeping is a very expensive undertaking. This is why NATO rejects contacts with the Organization yet.

Robert Simmons, plenipotentiary of the NATO secretary-general in the Caucasus and central Asia, stated at a press conference in Moscow on December 14 that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently explained the main aspects of the Organization’s tasks to NATO’s ministers. The alliance reacted to that speech positively but concluded that it’s too early to cooperate with the Organization.

At the same time, he noted that NATO cooperates with the members of the Organization (especially Armenia and Kazakhstan) and plans to develop such cooperation with Russia. He said that Sergei Lavrov emphasized that the Organization intends to focus on common threats. However, he said that NATO has not yet determined the form of cooperation in this sector.

In other words, the prestige of the Organization is not high yet. This organization is based on Russia’s money and initiatives. In the meantime, Russia needs reliable allies.