Alyaksandr Lukashenka puts under threat Moscow’s plans to turn the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) into a strong military block like NATO, Russia’s newspaper Kommersant writes in its July 31 issue.
"Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wants to obtain Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s signature for the CSTO’s agreement on the establishment of a collective rapid response force, as well as have documents providing for the establishment of the force’s military base in Kyrgyzstan signed. However, as the newspaper has learnt, neither Minsk nor Bishkek are so far ready to make a step toward Moscow’s persistent demands."
All CSTO member states except Belarus and Uzbekistan signed the agreement at a summit held in Moscow on June 14. The Belarusian leader boycotted the meeting in protest against Russia’s decision to ban the import of nearly all dairy products from Belarus earlier that month.
The matter can be raised at an informal summit of the CSTO held in Kyrgyzstan on Friday.
According to the Kommersant, Russia on Wednesday began talks on the force’s first military exercises. "The exercises are scheduled to take place between August 19 and October 24 at Kazakhstan’s Matybulak training ground," the newspaper says. "More than 6,000 soldiers, armored vehicles and front-line aircraft will be involved. The CSTO member states’ heads are to watch the main phase of the exercises scheduled for October 14. Russia also plans to set up the first military base in Central Asia ‘under the aegis of the collective rapid response force."
After Moscow`s summit on July 14, Minsk called the accord invalid because it said that the Organization’s fundamental rule, the rule of consensus decision-making, had been ignored. According to the Belarusian foreign ministry, from a legal viewpoint, the decisions adopted in Moscow were decisions by a group of states and would not be decisions by the Collective Security Treaty Organization until approved by Belarus. Russia insists that all the decisions made at the summit have legal force. The Russian president’s aide, Sergei Prikhodko, told reporters on July 29 that Moscow hoped that Mr. Lukashenka would attend Friday`s summit and that Belarus would finally put its signatures to the documents providing for the establishment of the CSTO’s Collective Rapid Response Force.
Belarus is a sovereign country and will decide for itself what CSTO documents it will sign and when, Mr. Lukashenka`s aide, Valyantsin Rybakow, commented on Mr. Prikhodko`s remarks later in the day. The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Russia and four Central Asian nations: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The Collective Rapid Response Force (CRRF) is expected to be stationed in Russia and be under a single command. Personnel of Russia’s 98th Airborne Division and 31st Assault Landing Brigade may form the core of the Force.
The CRRF would be used for repelling "military aggression," conducting operations to combat international terrorism and extremism, transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, dealing with the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters, and ensuring the CSTO’s efficient participation in the maintenance of international peace and security.