'No plans' for CSTO to fill NATO vacuum in Afghanistan
CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha said the media misinterpreted comments made by Under Secretary General Valery Semerikov.
"This information is not correct, because Semerikov's words were taken out of context during a press conference in Almaty before the start of the CSTO's inaugural peacekeeping exercises," Bordyuzha told a press conference on Tuesday.
Media reports said the CSTO's Collective Peacekeeping Force could be deployed in Afghanistan after the ISAF departs in 2014.
The CSTO, a Russia-led military bloc uniting Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, is specifically designed to defend the security of its members. Thus, it would not be in the interest of this organization to launch what would amount to a military operation on the territory of a foreign country.
President Vladimir Putin recently criticized NATO’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan, saying the international force should remain until their job is finished.
"It is regrettable that many participants in this operation are thinking about how to pull out of there," Putin commented. "They took on this burden and should carry it out to the end."
“(Basic order in Afghanistan) is in our interest,” he said. “It's in our interest that we should have peace on our southern borders."
Russia has many reasons to be concerned about the security situation in Afghanistan, which is a hotbed for terrorists, as well as a major supplier of opium poppies, the raw ingredient of heroin.
Ever since US-led forces began a military campaign to remove the Taliban from power in October 2001, Russia, as well as much of Europe, has experienced a sharp rise in the amount of heroin hitting the streets.
NATO has permanent troops in Afghanistan at the moment, the Russian leader noted. "We should help them. Let them keep fighting there."
CSTO is currently hosting the Nerushimoye Bratstvo-2012 (‘Unbreakable Brotherhood-2012’) exercises, scheduled for Oct. 8-17 in Kazakhstan, which are designed to coordinate the actions of the national peacekeeping units within a single system.
The CSTO, which came into force on 15 May 1992, is currently an observer organization at the United Nations.