Putin defends Russian-led alliance
The work of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is not flawless, but it still contributes to defending the national interests of member states, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the CSTO summit on Wednesday. Along with Russia, the bloc comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
“We do see not just achievements, but problems as well,” the Russian president said at the meeting in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Earlier on Wednesday, the host nation’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan criticized the alliance’s response to an outbreak of hostilities between Armenia and its regional rival Azerbaijan during the autumn.
Pashinyan said it was “disappointing” that Yerevan’s CSTO membership did not prevent Baku from what he called “aggressive actions.” The prime minister also stated that the bloc's members have so far failed to reach a consensus when it comes to the CSTO’s reaction to Azerbaijani actions.
Dozens of people were reportedly killed over several days of shelling and cross-border raids between Armenia and Azerbaijan in October. The Armenian leadership asked the CSTO to send troops under the alliance’s mutual defense provisions. In response, the organization called for diplomacy and deployed monitors to Armenia.
Putin maintained on Wednesday that the CSTO’s work does bring about “visible practical results” and also “helps to defend national interests, sovereignty and independence of our nations.” He also praised its members' increased cooperation.
The Russian president highlighted a peacekeeping mission launched by the CSTO in Kazakhstan in January. Kazakhstan asked the CSTO for assistance during a period of extreme turmoil, when mass protests over fuel price hikes turned into riots. Later, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev blamed the unrest on malign foreign influences seeking to infiltrate the nation.
According to Putin, “effective measures” taken by the CSTO helped prevent Kazakhstan’s “takeover by extremists.” Pashinyan earlier gave a similar assessment, saying that the CSTO mission helped Kazakhstan to “avoid internal chaos.”
The experience the CSTO gained in Kazakhstan will be used to further strengthen the alliance, the Russian president said, adding that Moscow “supports… an important decision on equipping the [alliance’s] peacekeeping force with modern weapons, military and special equipment.”