Briefing by CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas

11:12 08.02.2021 • Yuri Menshikov , editor

The  Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Stanislav Zas has given a briefing in the TASS Press Center on the military and political situation  in the Collective Security Treaty Organization responsibility zone and around it, and on the outcomes of the CSTO activity in 2020 and the agenda for 2021.

At the beginning of the briefing Stanislav Zas told the participants that at present the CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. He informed the participants in the briefing that sessions of the CSTO statutory bodies – the Collective Security Council, the Council of Defense Ministers, the Council of Foreign Ministers and the Security Council Secretaries Committee – which took place at the end of 2020 evaluated the military and political situation involving the Organization and signed important documents on CSTO’s foreign policy, military cooperation, and measures to counteract present-day challenges and threats. The participants also adopted the Collective Security Council (CSC) Declaration, set the agenda for meeting the priorities in 2021. The secretary general spoke about major steps to develop CSTO peace-keeping forces so that they could take part in peace-keeping operations under the patronage of the UN.

Last year, because of the pandemic, sessions of the statutory bodies and the Collective Security Council (CSC) were held on-line, while a number of military and other exercises were postponed to a later date. The measures taken made it possible to publicize statements by CSTO foreign ministers on collective solidarity and mutual assistance in combating the coronavirus pandemic and express support for the UN secretary-general’s urge for a global ceasefire in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Organization held regular consultations to share experience in counteracting the pandemic and conducted daily monitoring of the spread of the infection within the CSTO responsibility zone.

In the political sphere Stanislav Zas underscored the importance for CSTO of expanding cooperation with international and regional organizations. Further dialogue with the UN is top on the list of cooperation priorities. The CSTO has maintained productive cooperation the UN Secretariat and related agencies on measures to combat terrorism, prevent the spread of drugs, incorporating the CSTO peace-keeping potential into the UN peace-keeping operations.

As part of fostering cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the secretary general singled out CSTO’s active participation in OSCE’s activities aimed to share opinions on the state of global security and take measures to strengthen it, and on what could be done to counteract challenges and security threats in the European direction.

CSTO has been promoting contacts with working groups and related agencies of friendly bodies – the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Representatives of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the above mentioned international organizations have worked jointly in statutory bodies and other groups.

Stanislav Zas emphasized the political significance of celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Victory in World War II in 2020. In May 2020 CSTO foreign ministers adopted a Statement in connection with the jubilee. The Victory parade in Moscow featured servicemen from all CSTO countries marching in collective formation.

To coordinate foreign policy, CSTO members have passed a number of joint statements which express joint positions on a number of pressing issues and current events. All in all, a total of 15 statements were circulated last year.

Speaking about military cooperation in 2020, the secretary general dwelled on major efforts which, in his words, were focused on training personnel and building forces and resources for the implementation of CSTO’s designated agenda. Unfortunately, the pandemic made it impossible to implement the Joint Training Plan in full.

Nevertheless, command and staff exercises on the basis of the CSTO’s Crisis Reaction Center and command and staff training with the CSTO’s peace-keeping corps “Inviolable Brotherhood 2020” in Belarus produced good results. In November last year, in the course of  command training drill with the Collective Rapid Reaction Force (CRRF) Command,  CSTO carried out a successful test on the structure and  staff of the Collective Rapid Reaction Command on the basis of the command of the command of the Air Forces of the Russian Federation.

Zas pointed out the importance of developing CSTO’s peace-keeping forces. It was for the first time in the practice of joint combat exercises of staff command that a peace-keeping mission was set up. Its function was tested on a conflict zone on the territory of a country that is not member of the CSTO.

During military staff training, the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces earned the status of a basic training center for preparing officers that answer for national security and defense capability of CSTO member countries.

In the priority area of counteracting contemporary threats, the CSTO has been building up efforts to fight terrorism and extremism. Also, the Organization has been accumulating national experience of CSTO member countries in carrying out programs aimed at de-radicalizing believers, and generalizing scientific and technological research data to protect the public against the  informational and psychological pressure on the part of terrorist organizations.

The CSTO succeeded in conducting Operation Mercenary, which focused on blocking the recruitment, exit/entry channels for individuals who participate in terrorist activities on the territories of the CSTO countries, and neutralizing the resource base of terrorist organizations.

To this end, there has been prepared a project of the CSTO’s Inter-Governmental Program to fortify the troubled sections of the Tajik-Afghan border.

Overall, the CSTO secretary general spoke positively about the Organization’s performance in 2020, despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Stanislav Zas said a few words about the goals for 2021. In his words, the CSTO leadership is full of determination to defend the military and political interests of the member countries, to maintain peace and stability, and to expand cooperation with external partners. The secretary general is sure that the Organization will be able to meet any challenges and guarantee collective security on the Eurasian space.