CSTO Says No Plans for Azerbaijan Membership

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)–The Collective Security Treaty Organization will not be offering membership to Azerbaijan, organization spokesperson Vitaly Strugovets stated on March 26 in response to earlier media reports that he characterized as "inaccurate."

The reports came after CSTO General Secretary Nikolai Bordyuzha called for deepening cooperation between the organization and Azerbaijan on March 21. "[W]e welcome Azerbaijan’s participation in operations conducted under the CSTO flag;but there was no mention of the CSTO’s desire to have Azerbaijan participate in the organization," Strugovets said, according to a report distributed by the Regnum news agency.

The remarks came in response to statemen’s from Azerbaijan indicating that it would consider participating in the alliance and may even contribute troops to its newly established rapid-reaction forces in order to have a “say in the strength and deployment of the alliance.”

Earlier in February, the CSTO decided to establish a rapid reaction force that would transform the traditionally unorganized former Soviet alliance into a NATO-like military organization with a peacekeeping mandate by the United Nations.

Intended as a regional counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Russian-led CSTO brings together Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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