At the beginning of January 6, Russian paratroopers and Belarusian special forces boarded the plane to Almaty, One of the largest metropolis of Kazakhstan. The oil rich country of 19 million people has seen Mass unrest at the start of the new year On the decision of the government to end subsidy on liquefied petroleum gas.
Although the decision was taken three years ago, fuel prices became purely market based on January 1. The price of LPG, which many Kazakhs use instead of petrol or diesel to power their cars, soon doubled to 60 ten ($0.14) per liter. At the end of last year, in some places, it reached 120 by January 2. Tang is gone. Protests erupted immediately in Zanozen and it didn’t take long for them to spread across the country, snowballing from a specific complaint about fuel prices to widespread demands for regime change.
When things started to get out of hand, the country’s president, Kassym-Zomart Tokayev, appealed to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for help. It was this group’s troops that began raiding the country to quell protests that threatened the very existence of the regime that had ruled the Central Asian country since it became an independent republic in 1991.
So, what is the Collective Security Treaty Organization?
When the Cold War ended in 1991, the Warsaw Pact of the Alliance of Eight Socialist States and the Soviet Union’s response to NATO were dissolved. Less than a year later, Russia and its five allies in the Commonwealth of Independent States, which were nothing more than a loose club of post-Soviet countries, signed a new Collective Security Treaty, which was signed in 1994. was signed in.
Although it was not as powerful as the Warsaw Pact, in 2002, as Central Asia evolved into geopolitics – the US had invaded Afghanistan the previous year – it declared itself the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a full-fledged military alliance. Today it has six members: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan left the coalition in 2012.
However, the ambitions of the CSTO have grown over the past decade. In 2007, it agreed to create a 3,600-strong peacekeeping force and two years later, it established a rapid reaction force comprising 20,000 elite personnel who have been put on high alert. The coalition has also conducted joint exercises, which include a series of high-profile “counter-terrorism” exercises last summer and autumn in response to the growing chaos in Afghanistan.
However, for the first time this week, the organization invoked Article 4, which is similar to Article 5 of NATO. Article 5 states that the armed forces may engage in response, but it does not mandate it. NATO has in fact promised to “take such action as it deems necessary” to restore and maintain security. It could be anything from nuclear war to strong diplomatic opposition.
Growing chaos in Kazakhstan caused the CSTO to invoke Article 4 as the president blamed foreign-trained “terrorist gangs” for the protests. Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who holds the rotating chair of the CSTO, said the group had agreed to send peacekeepers. In addition to Russia and Belarus, Tajikistan and Armenia also agreed to send contingents.
Russia’s growing influence
For Russia, the CSTO is a useful tool to strengthen its hold on Central Asia against both Western and Chinese encroachments. It justifies Russian military facilities in member states, while giving Russia a veto over any other foreign bases in the region. In return, CSTO members benefit from cooperation with Russia’s advanced armed forces, which includes training and subsidized arms sales.
President Vladimir Putin has long claimed that Kazakhstan, like Ukraine, is not a real country, but part of the “greater Russian world”.
The coalition’s quick response could be a reassuring sign for the coalition’s other strongmen, including Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko, who last year received Russian – but not the CSTO – aid against its own protesters, and Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon. . those in power. 28 years. In 2010, when Kyrgyzstan sought the group’s help to stem the outbreak of violence, Russia refused to step in. A decade later, and with the wars in Ukraine and Syria, Russian influence has only grown.