Lukashenko wants former Soviet states to create “real military and political bloc”

Aleksandr Lukashenko
The Belarusian leader is using his country’s position as the current president of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to reform the alliance and answer current challenges.

­“There is nothing to conceal: the whole Muslim world is in turmoil, and it can not be ruled out that the situation may be exacerbated in our Muslim countries as well,” Aleksandr Lukashenko has said. “First of all, in Tajikistan, and there are enough problems in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and some have started to stir up problems in Kazakhstan from different sides.” During a meeting with the CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha, the details of which became known on Tuesday, Lukashenko was referring to conditions in the military bloc’s member states.

Belarus is currently the state presiding in the CSTO, which, along with the previously mentioned countries, also includes Russia and Armenia. Minsk plans to raise issues concerning the future of the organization during the informal summit in Astana set for August 12.

“There are serious questions, a lot of them,” Lukashenko told Bordyuzha. The Belarusian leader made it clear that the primary goal is to turn the current “consultative body into a real military and political bloc,” ready to react to any crisis situation.

Belarus has supported the efforts of other member states to strengthen the peacekeeping aspect of the CSTO’s activities. They could be carried out under the auspices of the UN, and the General Assembly has already adopted a special resolution on cooperation with the CSTO in this area.

The military alliance’s member states have also recently consolidated efforts in the fight against drug trafficking, illegal immigration and organized crime.

Belarus also wants the CSTO to adopt a special targeted program on equipping the CSTO forces with military hardware and modern weapons.

Ironically enough, it was Lukashenko himself who had long resisted signing the creation of the organization’s Collective Rapid Reaction Force amid an economic row with Russia in 2009. He even skipped the CSTO summit in June of that year, though he still signed the agreement in October.

Some consider the bloc as a Central Asian rival to NATO.  Russia’s security strategy until 2020 sees the CSTO as “a key mechanism to counter regional military challenges and threats.”