Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko is preparing to assume chairmanship of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and present some radical initiatives for its reorganization. This will take place on December 10 at the CSTO Collective Security Council meeting in Moscow, or prior to the start of the presidential elections in Belarus scheduled for December 19. Thus, the CSTO summit in the Russian capital could be a powerful pre-election move of the Belarusian leader. Judging from the reactions of various sources, representatives of the Presidential Administration of the RF, the Kremlin and the CSTO Secretariat are very concerned with this fact.
Fuel to the fire was added by Lukashenko’s demarche, when on November 22 in Minsk he refused to sign the routine “Plan for the Use of Regional Grouping Forces of Belarus and Russia,” and demanded that Moscow supply the forces with arms “not at their market value.” The situation was intensified by the fact that, according to sources in the Kremlin, President Dmitry Medvedev has already signed this document. Lukashenko, meanwhile, plans on doing so at the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State, the date for which has not yet been set. But in accordance with the adopted regulation, during the December 10 summit of the CSTO, Russia will hand over chairmanship over the organization to Belarus. This is the day Lukashenko plans to announce his initiatives for the strengthening of the system of collective defense in the post-Soviet space.
After the Osh events in the spring-summer of 2010 in Kyrgyzstan, when President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed, Lukashenko expressed criticism toward the CSTO.
He then sheltered Bakiyev and announced that “if the CSTO continues to remain silent, and not pay attention to the fact that one of the member countries of the organization is experiencing a blood shed, a revolution, then any future work of the alliance will have no chance for success.”
Lukashenko, it seems, does not believe in the CSTO’s failure, and intends to “give the ‘alliance of seven’ a new image and dynamism.” This conclusion could be drawn from the article “The Post Was Relinquished and Will Be Taken,” which has for almost one month been posted on the official website of the Belarusian Embassy in Russia. In it, the author wonders how, with help from Aleksandr Lukashenko, the CSTO could change and what initiatives could be expected from the Belarusian president during the time he will spend as chairman of the organization. According to the publication, there will be many initiatives, and they will directly affect Russia’s interests.
For example, the article argues that Lukashenko will propose to introduce changes to the charter documents of the CSTO which will be related to “increasing the organization’s efficiency in crisis situations that arise in a country that is a member of the ‘alliance of seven.’. The author believes that the Belarusian president will suggest the “alliance of seven…make decisions on a number of political issues, in particular on global events, events in the CIS, and the Caucasus (the Georgia-South Ossetia Five-Day War with the participation of Russia – Nezavisimaya Gazeta)”. As is well known, not a single Russian ally in the CSTO recognized the sovereignty of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The author suggests stopping keeping silent and start expressing opinions on this issue directly to the leaders of the CSTO states.
“Presumably, the Belarusian leadership will, once again, consider and present to the CSTO ways to activate work for the creation of a global security system that is legally binding on the international level,” reads the article. The author believes that Alexsandr Lukashenko will “intensify the process of implementation of decisions on the formation and equipment of the CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Forces (CRRF).” Meanwhile, the article focuses on the need to, simultaneously, raise the question of equipping the CSTO member states with modern weaponry. Moreover, these weapons should be supplied at discount prices.
Currently, the discount supply of arms is offered only to troops that work on common defense. Lukashenko plans to propose that all supplies to the member states of the CSTO, as well as the Union State, are offered at Russia’s domestic prices. At the same time, it is clear that the most pressure is, in this case, being put on Russia, which produces these arms. Currently, Russia opposes this transition.
“I am impressed by the active position of Aleksandr Lukashenko, who intends to increase the efficiency of collective defense within the framework of the Commonwealth,” Captain Konstantin Sivkov, the first vice president of the Academy for Geopolitical Sciences who previously led the military construction and technical policies at the General Staff’s Center of Military Strategic Studies, told NG.
“Unfortunately, the Russian leadership does not hold a similar position,” he continued. “We react to political, military and other crises of our allies. No unified principles for military and technical policies have been formed within the framework of the Union State and the CSTO. As a result, even Russia’s closest allies, such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, are implementing many military and technical projects together with NATO countries and the United States. The damage this causes Moscow is evident.”
“When examining the military and political situation in the Western direction, it becomes evident that Russia and Belarus together need to strengthen the defense capabilities of the Union State,” said General Colonel Yury Bukreev, the chairman of the Board of the Reserve Officers Association and who headed the Main Directorate of Ground Troops while serving as the deputy head of the General Staff. “However, we cannot have a simplified approach to the determination of pricing on weaponry for our joint groupings. There are many components, including political, economic, etc. Defense is not cheap. And global experience is evidence of that fact. If, for example, some country joins NATO, then it automatically adopts the standards of that organization. And there, the Americans, for example, are selling even the dated weapons at fairly high prices.”
With permission from Russia Beyond the Headlines