The Collective Security Treaty Organization faces a test in Kazakhstan

This is the first time that the CSTO has been involved in an active process, so what is that organization? Who are its member states? What is the nature of the work of the forces that went to Kazakhstan to provide security assistance? And how long will you be there?

Faced with mounting domestic unrest and apparent uncertainty about the loyalty of Kazakhstan’s law enforcement and military forces, the country’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, turned to a Russian-dominated security alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for help.

Within hours, the organization announced its readiness to accept the request for assistance, and by Thursday morning, planes loaded with Russian elite portable units had set off for Kazakhstan.

Shahrat Nuryshev, Kazakhstan’s deputy foreign minister, said 2,500 CSTO peacekeepers will be deployed.

What is the Collective Security Organization?

The CSTO was created in the first half of the 1990s in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Besides Russia, this organization includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.


Despite the organization’s name “Collective Security” it has at times struggled to define its exact purpose, motivated by the failure to engage in several security crises among its members over the years, leading security analysts to question its usefulness.

Last spring, two members of the Collective Security Organization – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – plunged into a bloody and messy border dispute that was ignored by the organization.

In contrast, the focus of the bloc was intensively aimed at enhancing readiness for a possible deployment on Afghanistan’s borders following the US withdrawal, as Afghanistan shares a long border with Tajikistan in which about 7,000 Russian soldiers are currently stationed.

Why did Kazakhstan appeal to the organization?

To legitimize his appeal for foreign military assistance, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appeared on television late Wednesday, saying the unrest was being led by “international terrorist groups”.

This framing was important, because the CSTO is ostensibly determined to protect member states from external aggression, however, it is unclear which external groups are allegedly causing problems in Kazakhstan.

The current crisis began at the weekend with peaceful protests over the sudden rise in car fuel prices when large rallies began to appear across the country, and with the outbreak of violence in the country’s commercial capital Almaty.

There have been reports on some websites that law enforcement authorities have been refusing to crack down on gatherings, which is the standard protocol in Kazakhstan.

This sparked speculation that Tokayev – who became president in 2019 – was nervous about the loyalty of his security services.

What is the mission of the Collective Security Treaty Organization?

The Russian Defense Ministry said that its forces are being transferred to Kazakhstan on 70 IL-76 (IL-76) and 5 An-124 (AN-124) heavy transport aircraft, and will also bring military transports. Russian forces from Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

The Russian component is withdrawn from units in the army specially trained for rapid response operations: the 45th Guards Special Purpose Brigade, the 98th Guards Airborne Division, the 31st Guards Separate Division, and the Russian mission in Kazakhstan will be headed by Andrei Serdyukov (59), the commander in chief of the Russian Airborne Forces. .

How does Kazakhstan view the participation of the organization?

The sight of Russian troops patrolling the country’s streets is expected to evoke very ambivalent feelings among Kazakhs, particularly as Kazakhstan is a close and loyal ally of Moscow, and feelings toward Russia are usually positive.

Despite this, there is serious concern about Russia’s historically aggressive behavior towards its neighbors.

The Kremlin has cited alleged concerns about the persecution of ethnic Russians in Ukraine when it annexed Crimea in 2014.

Kazakhstan, whose territory was occupied by Tsarist Russia during the 19th century, has a large ethnic Russian population in its northern regions, and Russian politicians and nationalists in Moscow have routinely spoken of the need to one day intervene on their behalf.

In an interview with the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti, the Secretary-General of the CSTO Stanislav Zas mocked the talk that the organization’s forces were a cover for imposing Russian power on Kazakhstan, and said, “There was some nonsense about how this was an invasion or something like that.” Well, I’m sorry, that’s just complete stupidity.”

However, Tokayev would face questions from his own people about whether his eagerness to welcome foreign forces had weakened Kazakhstan’s sovereignty, the invasion or not, the damage being done.

How long are the SS forces in Kazakhstan?

Answering this question, RIA Novosti quoted Zass as saying, “This could mean days or even weeks, and the official position is that Kazakhstan should only say the word, and the CSTO forces will leave.”

It is reported that Russian troops have already been deployed at Almaty airport, where the most serious disturbances occurred, although Deputy Foreign Minister Nuryshev said about 2,500 soldiers from the Collective Security Treaty Organization are being deployed.

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