CSTO Set to Become Alternative to NATO

MOSCWO (RIA Novosti)–The post-Soviet security group, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is set to a become an alternative to NATO when the UN and CSTO sign a declaration on cooperation during UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Moscow this week, the Russian Kommersant daily respected.

In 2008, the UN and NATO had secretly signed a cooperation agreement without all UN member states reading the draft, triggering a backlash from Russia.

Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, accused Ban of acting beyond his powers and pointed to a discrepancy between the preface and the body of the document, saying Moscow could not consider the document legitimate and would view it as reflecting the UN chief’s personal opinion. He added that the document was related to Afghanistan.

In 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev promised to transform the CSTO into what he called a worthy competitor to NATO. Russia prepared a draft treaty on European security which was open for signing “by all states of the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian space from Vancouver to Vladivostok” as well as by the EU, NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), CSTO, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Kommersant daily said UN and CSTO leaders Ban Ki-Moon and Nikolai Bordyuzha would sign the declaration under which the cooperation between the organizations might cover such areas as preventing and resolving conflicts, fighting against terrorism, international crime and arms trafficking.

The declaration says that the cooperation is necessary to fight challenges and threats the international community is facing.

The sides will take into account the mandate and competence of each other, as well as mutual opportunities “in order to coordinate international efforts to solve global challenges and to eliminate global threats.”

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told Kommersant the declaration has both practical and political significance for the CSTO. “With its [the declaration] signing, a formation of a political and legal framework between two organizations will be completed,” he said.

Russian diplomats say that one of the main strains of the joint work between the UN and the CSTO is also Afghanistan.

“Under the UN aegis, cooperation between NATO and CSTO may be initiated in Afghanistan,” Rogozin told Kommersant.

Last year, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Western military bloc was seeking greater Russian assistance for international operations in Afghanistan, inviting Russia to step up its assistance in Afghanistan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said also last year that Moscow hoped NATO would step up its efforts against drug trafficking in Afghanistan and reiterated a proposal the bloc join efforts with CSTO.

“There are functional tasks that are better solved together rather than separately and one of them is fighting against ‘heroin aggression’ coming from Afghanistan,” Rogozin said. “We can not trace underground heroin development, but NATO can.”

Rogozin, described “heroin aggression” as “the main threat to Russia,” and in February Moscow urged NATO to prioritize the fight against drug trafficking in Afghanistan.

The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Russia’s security strategy until 2020 approved by Medvedev envisions the CSTO as “a key mechanism to counter regional military challenges and threats.”


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