CSTO preparing for Uzbekistan’s withdrawal
The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) member countries are preparing for Uzbekistan’s exit from the military bloc and regrouping their forces.
A visit to Bishkek on 12 and 13 November by CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, a Russian citizen, was conducted under great secrecy. Details of his meetings with President Almazbek Atambayev and other top officials have not been reported.
The president’s press service got away with a few general phrases about “regional security”.
But experts think that the matter concerned not only regional security as the meetings focused on Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the CSTO.
In addition to other matters, the forthcoming CSTO summit in Moscow on 19 December will discuss Uzbekistan’s statement as to its withdrawal from the organisation.
Uzbekistan is freezing up its relations with the CSTO, but simultaneously strengthening bilateral ties with the USA, promising to remain the USA’s partner in the region after the NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan late in 2014.
Regrouping and preventive measures
Russia is trying to compensate the loss of the strategic ally in Central Asia.
Russian authorities have decided to strengthen the Kyrgyz and Tajik armies on a no-string basis. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will receive military equipment worth $1.1bn and $400m, respectively.
After taking this decision, Russia has carried out a personnel reshuffle in the Defence Ministry. Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and appointed Sergey Shoygu, one of the most influential Russian politicians, to this post.
Experts consider that these facts are linked to each other. Moscow is making it clear that the new military doctrine in Central Asia is serious. Russia does not intend to concede its position in the region to the USA, experts believe.
On 19 December, Kazakhstan will hand over its CSTO chairmanship to Kyrgyzstan.
Our source in the White House in Bishkek believes that Nikolai Bordyuzha in the Kyrgyz capital tried to establish relations and to enlist the Kyrgyz president’s support.
The appointment of the new CSTO secretary-general will also depend in many regards on the Kyrgyz president’s position.
President Atambayev has repeatedly stressed the need to reform the CSTO and to step up its work in Central Asia. In his opinion, the incumbent current secretary, Bordyuzha, has not managed to cope with these tasks.
After the NATO special forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, the source in the Kyrgyz Defence Ministry said, the CSTO Collective Rapid Response Forces will have to be ready to rebut possible threats on the CIS southern borders.
According to the Kyrgyz government, no-one has addressed this problem properly.