Russia’s long-term foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has called for the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) peacekeepers capacity increase to become the UN peacekeeping mission part.
The CSTO was created after the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact’s collapse to counter NATO. Currently, the CSTO consists of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, i.e. all the former republics of the Soviet Union that remained in Russia’s sphere of interest, or in some way significantly dependent on Russia. There is no doubt that all the CSTO member states share the same ideological platform. So, what kind of CSTO military formations are, according to Lavrov, so eager to take part in UN peacekeeping missions?
- Russia: the 98th Airborne Division (Ivanovo), the 31st Air Assault Brigade (Ulyanovsk);
- Kazakhstan: the 37th Air Assault Brigade, Naval Infantry Battalion;
- Belarus: the 1st special forces brigade;
- Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan: a battalion from each country.
One plans to supplement the CSTO with Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations units and the Ministry of Internal Affairs specified units. Belarus and Kyrgyzstan also provide them. The CSTO also has a Russian aviation unit based in Kyrgyzstan.
Russia wants to join the UN
Okay, but what are the responsibilities of peacekeepers? They protect civilians, actively prevent conflicts, combat violence, further ensure security, and empower government agencies to take on these responsibilities.
Wait, either Lavrov has a kind of a sense of humour, or I don’t understand anything. The CSTO mostly consists of moles – the soldiers or policemen who trained for the sole purpose of killing someone quickly, and now they are turned into peacekeepers. You can also announce that lions and crocodiles will start eating grass, or that a serial killer will serve as a surgeon at a hospital.
The CSTO armed forces cannot perform the peacekeepers’ duties for the simple reason that they have not been trained to accomplish this. They were taught for absolutely different purposes.
Obviously, Russian forces are dominant in the CSTO. So much that the CSTO is an organisation created by Russia to serve its interests.
Let’s look at some of the missions to which Russia has sent its troops. Just a few cases.
Transnistria: The conflict began in 1990 in Soviet Moldova when the Russian-speaking minority in the Transnistrian region seceded and declared independence unilaterally.
South Ossetia: When Georgia reacquired its independence in 1991, it tried to regain control of its autonomous territories under the Zviad Gamsakhurdia leadership. In South Ossetia, this turned into a year and a half war with about 1,000 casualties. The conflict escalated in 2008.
Both of these conflicts erupted because Russia wanted to prevent the creation of sovereign nations. That is, these countries wanted to leave Russia’s sphere of influence.
That is a rather peculiar situation. Russia caused these conflicts, but then it also sent its peacekeeping forces to the same conflict areas.
Russia also wanted to send peacekeepers to conflict areas in Ukraine. In Russia’s highly developed hybrid war, these so-called “peacekeepers” are a method of pursuing their interests in Ukraine without launching a conventional attack. As we can see, this is an old Russian tactic – to create a conflict and then send its peacekeeping forces to deal with it. It is worth noting that the USSR did not hesitate to use the same approach. The Soviet Union inflamed the riots and then sent its troops as “liberators” to protect the workers. Everything new is just a well-forgotten old, isn’t it?
Probably, Russia itself is well aware that its “peacekeeping” operations do not look good from the outside, so it searches for ways to hide it. The CSTO is not a full-fledged decision, as no one in the world considers the organisation something serious. The next thing to try is to “get under someone else’s roof,” i.e. to become part of the UN peacekeeping.
Interestingly, are these attempts to become peacekeepers connected with the conflicts that have already been caused by Russia or with the conflicts that wait for us?
I believe that the UN should make it clear that countries that become aggressors against other countries cannot take part in peacekeeping operations. Because otherwise, we will find ourselves in a situation where we decide to send a fox to guard our chicken coop.
Zintis Znotins, investigative journalist