Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO)–4 Aug 14

Is Putin Gearing Up For Intervening In Asia Next? – Analysis
P. Stobdan
Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses | August 4, 2014

Few may have paid attention to the recently held (June 21-28) massive military “snap inspection” drill by Russia in its Central Military District (CMD) that involved 65,000 troops including Russian troops stationed in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. More than 180 aircraft and 60 helicopters took part in the war game. According to media reports, President Vladimir Putin had ordered the drill to keep the armed forces on constant alert.1 In fact, when this author was on a visit to Central Asia in June, the “snap inspection” had begun at the Russian Kant air base in Kyrgyzstan and the 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan. Media had quoted Yaroslav Roshchupkin, District Assistant Commander of CMD that a comprehensive inspection was taking place simultaneously in all military units of CMD’s 29 regions.

According to Eurasia Daily Monitor quoting Russian news agency Interfax (June 20–29) and Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenuya (June 29), the exercise involved forces from all the four Military Districts, which included “the 57th, 59th and Motorized Rifle Brigades and the 8th Surface-to-Air (SAM) Brigade of the Eastern Military District’s 5th Combined Arms Army (CAA). The 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade in addition to the elements of the Northern Fleet and the 790th Fighter Aviation Regiment (providing MiG-31, MiG-31BM, and Su-27) represented the Western Military District. The Airborne Forces (VDV) 7th Air Assault Division (Novorossiysk) represented the Southern Military District. However, the Central Military District deployed the bulk of the forces. These included the 2nd Air Forces and Air Defense Forces Command (562nd Base) Tolmachevo (Mi-8 and Mi-24); VDV 31st Air Assault Brigade (Ulyanovsk), 3rd Spetsnaz Brigade, the 28th, 23rd (Medium) and 21st (Heavy) Motorized Rifle Brigades, the 15th Motorized Rifle Peacekeeping Brigade, 385th Artillery Brigade and the 297th SAM Brigade.”2

Coming on the heels of Russia’s faceoff with Ukraine, the snap drill surprised many. Western analysts including the NATO officials viewed this as a gambit to wield additional pressure on Ukraine and further escalation of the crisis. The Russian Defence Ministry website gives no details but Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that the drill evaluated the operational readiness for any possible intervention in Central Asia in the near future. The June snap inspection was supposedly the largest operational-strategic exercise since Zapad 2013. The Central Military District acted the role of strategic reserve for other three military theaters in addition to forces deployed in Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. At the end of the inspection, Russia’s Defense Ministry officials announced that it had achieved the goal of creating a self-sustaining strategic operational force and strategic mobility capabilities.3 Strategic mobility over the swath of territory has been a big issue for the Russian army. Traditionally, Russians military depended heavily on railway transportation, but the exercise this time believed to have paid extra attention to using airlift to enhance mobility. Russian An-124-100 Ruslan heavy-lift transporters airlifted Mi-24 helicopters from Tolmachevo Airbase (Novosibirsk Region) to Koltsovo airfield (Sverdlovsk Region). Russian media mentioned that the drill tested out the mobility range covering a strategic depth of 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) within three days period.

Quite clearly, the “snap inspection” was Russia’s own drill separate of annually conducted maneuver by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) under the rubric Rubezh (“Frontier”) exercise. This meant that Russia was building its own capability either to act along with the CSTO’s Rapid Reaction Forces or to intervene unilaterally in the Central Asian Theater if required. However, the force structure comprising all forms of Motorized Rifle Brigades was different from the formation Russia used for annexing Crimea early this year. Clearly, the June snap inspection was a preparation for meeting the threats emanating from the southern frontiers or perhaps a rehearsal for supporting a crisis in Central Asia. As the CMD representative said, the main target was to neutralize international terrorists.4

Soon after another command-and-staff drill codenamed “Rubezh (Frontier) 2014” followed the “snap inspection” drill in Chelyabinsk region on July 15-18 under the aegis of CSTO with the participation of armed forces of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, as well as joint staff and secretariat of the CSTO. 5 Rubezh is an annual drill mainly to display the joint operational capabilities of CSTO’s Collective Rapid Reaction Forces under a single command. It is also a platform for interactions and exchanging experiences. The drill also aimed at neutralizing extremist threats emanating from the south – the primary source of concern for the Central Asian states for two decades.

A series of CSTO war games scheduled for this year also include Vostok 2014 in the Far East in September. Not only this covers the challenges emanating from the Chinese Flank but also to counter the threats posed to Russian interests by the US in the Asia-Pacific. Interestingly, all these military maneuvers are being planned against the backdrop of the US and NATO troops pulling from Afghanistan and Central Asia. Moscow probably feels pressed to do something to defend the Central Asia flank where Russian interests are mostly concentrated. Although the scope of these maneuvers are wider to tackle conflicts erupting in any direction of Russia’s near-aboard, but considerations seem more to do with the Afghan-scenario. To be sure, the larger context of the shift of focus on Central Asia could be for the following reasons:

 

  1. To deal with the eventual Afghan fall outs after the impending withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force this year;
  2. To prepare for any eventualities especially the possibility of the West propping up Ukraine-type regime change in Central Asia that would threaten the existing regimes and the Russian interest in Asia;
  3. To consolidate support for ethnic Russians living near-abroad especially in Central Asia;
  4. To assess the possibility of sectarian and extremist forces spreading into the Caucasus and Central Asian regions;
  5. To signal the Chinese of their limits of influence in Eurasia hitherto increased unchecked.

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India

Notes:

1 ITAR-TASS, June 21, 2014

2 Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 119, July 1, 2014

3 RIA Novosti, June 27

4 Colonel Yaroslav Roshupkin described, “In one of the regions, the reconnaissance unit detected international extremist organisations attempting to intimidate and enlist locals, and store ammunition, arms and drugs in warehouses. Command has made the decision to block and destroy the extremists by using artillery and air force.” Novosti reported on July 17, 2014 [http://en.ria.ru/military_news/20140717/190983408/CSTO-Holds-Military-Exercises-in-Central-Asia.html]

5 [http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/740724], 17 July 2014]

http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/IsPutinGearingUpforInterveninginAsiaNext_pstobdan_010814.html

 

Russian Analytical Digest No 152: CSTO and SCO
21 July 2014

This edition of the RAD focuses on two regional security organizations in which Russia plays a prominent role — the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Indeed, the first article examines the next-step challenges an increasingly comprehensive CSTO faces, while the second one focuses on the SCO’s quest for socio-economic cooperation and regional stability, even though its members don’t share a common security strategy with each other.

2014 Research Centre for East European Studies (FSOE) and Center for Security Studies (CSS)

Download: English (PDF · 8 pages · 231 KB)

Meeting with heads of security and intelligence services of CIS states

President of Russia | July 10, 2014

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the heads of delegations to the 13th meeting of the Conference of Heads of CIS Security and Intelligence Services dedicated to intelligence matters.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Friends, colleagues,

The meeting you are attending has become a traditional, regular event. There is clearly a need for such contacts because we live in troubled times. Though, when were they not troubled? I believe there were always difficulties. However, in my opinion, we are definitely living in times of change, and these are always marked by special tension.

You are facing huge, very complex tasks dealing with maintaining stability within your countries, combatting drugs and their illegal turnover, combatting trans boundary crime, illegal migration and terrorism, of course. You have to provide timely, full and reliable support for the foreign policy activities of your states and the heads of your states.

It is important for you in your work to proceed from the understanding that you can only be efficient if you combine your efforts. We are facing the same challenges and threats, some of which I have already mentioned. However, there are also specific ones, typical of certain parts of the world. I am referring, for instance, to Afghanistan and the upcoming withdrawal of the international contingent from that country. We all know and keep saying that this will not make the situation in Afghanistan any better or calmer, and we should be prepared for any turn of events, although we will, of course, proceed from the best. We will proceed from the idea that the situation will be controlled by the official authorities and we will do everything to assist in this.

As you may know, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are actively moving in the direction of deeper economic integration on the post-Soviet territory. The Eurasian Economic Union will become operable as of January 1, 2015, which will create additional favourable preconditions for joint work in a number of areas, including security in the economy. We expect you to contribute to this joint work of ours.

There are also purely professional matters. We continue helping our friends from the Commonwealth to train employees for the special services and security forces. I would like to assure you that we will continue this work in the future, in line with your needs and requests.

I would like to wish you all success in our joint work both in the course of these meetings and in your main activities to maintain the security of your states.

<…>

Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

http://eng.news.kremlin.ru/news/22641

Kazakhstan Hosts Steppe Eagle 2012

Roger McDermott
The Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor
Volume: 9 Issue: 16  4 September 11, 2012

Kazakhstan is hosting the international peacekeeping exercise Steppe Eagle 2012, amidst growing speculation that the country plans to deploy a company of peacekeepers abroad. Astana ultimately resisted the West’s efforts to persuade the country to send peacekeepers to Afghanistan, but is now turning to consider less politically sensitive options (Interfax, September 6).

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Russia demands continued free use of military base in Tajikistan

Eurasia Daily Monitor
July 30, 2012 — Volume 9, Issue 144

Moscow’s Military Muscle in Central Asia: Tajikistan Exposes Russian Hard Power

Continued wrangling between Dushanbe and Moscow over the renewal of basing rights for the 201st Military Base headquartered in Tajikistan’s capital has eclipsed Russia’s wider basing strategy in Central Asia and the extent to which Tajikistan’s security depends upon Moscow’s continued military and security presence and assistance to the country. At face value, the basing agreement, which expires this year, allows an opportunity for President Emomalii Rahmon to try to extract as much money from Moscow to renew the agreement, much in the way that neighboring Kyrgyzstan has attempted to do, and skillfully achieved, in relation to the US Transit Center at Manas (RIA Novosti, July 17).

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Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan join Russia in CSTO rapid reaction forces military exercises

CSTO Launches War Games amid Growing Regional Uncertainty
Eurasia Daily Monitor
August 7, 2012 — Volume 9, Issue 150

On Monday, August 6, the Collective Rapid Reaction Force (in Russian – KSOR) of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) launched this year’s military exercise at the Chebarkul training site of Russia’s Chelyabinsk region, close to the border with Kazakhstan. This five-day exercise codenamed Rubezh-2012 (which means “frontier” in Russian) is being attended by more than 1,000 soldiers and officers from Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, aided by 100 armored vehicles, as well as by an aviation group comprised of combat helicopters and fighter jets. With landscapes similar to those of the Central Asian steppes, Chebarkul is the closest training facility in Russia with regard to both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. According to Nikolay Donyushkin, a spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Defense for ground forces, the participants of the exercise will jointly prepare an attack on a well-protected camp, presumably established by an organized criminal group. The operation will include not only the blockade of the camp, but also the neutralization of outposts and the destruction of the enemy’s reserve forces (RIA Novosti, August 6; Asia-Plus, August 1).

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Uzbekistan’s Balancing Act With China: A View From the Ground

Publication: China Brief Volume: 12 Issue: 14

July 19, 2012 03:30 PM

By: Raffaello Pantucci, Alexandros Petersen

 

The exact reasons for Uzbekistan’s decision to withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at the end of June remain unclear (Xinhua, June, 29; Russia Today, June 28, 2012). However, while Tashkent seems to have soured on the Russian-led regional organization, President Islam Karimov took time in June to pay a state visit to Beijing that included attending the Chinese instigated Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In addition to attending the SCO Summit, President Karimov held separate bilateral meetings with President Hu Jintao, signed a strategic partnership agreement and approved a raft of new measures to strengthen Sino-Uzbek relations (Gov.uz, June 8; Xinhua, June 7). At this high level, relations are clearly moving in a positive direction. The view from the ground, however, is far more complex with Uzbekistan’s traditional vision of itself as a regional powerhouse and industrial power potentially at odds with China’s growing influence in Central Asia.

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Tajikistan’s strategic significance grows as US and NATO prepare for 2014 Afghan pullout … while Dushanbe and Moscow hammer out the details of their military basing agreement

Eurasia Daily Monitor
July 9, 2012 — Volume 9, Issue 129

Tajikistan Seeks Shorter Term, Better Compensation For Russian Military Base

Tajikistan’s perceived strategic significance is rapidly growing, in anticipation of the US/NATO quasi-withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014. Tajikistan shares a 1,400 kilometer border with Afghanistan. That border and Tajikistan itself are an anti-narcotics defensive frontline opposite Afghanistan, the source of an estimated 90 percent of global opium and heroin production (Tajikistan being one of several way stations for Afghan drug exports). Conversely, Tajikistan forms a potential staging area and supply channel for anti-Taliban operations in Afghanistan after 2014.

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