Commenting on Alexander Pankin’s speech, Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, said that it was fundamentally important for the CSTO to demonstrate solidarity and determination in Kazakhstan. Returning to the comparison of the CSTO with NATO, he pointed out that the efficiency of the Western alliance during the Cold War years was due to the fact that, firstly, it demonstrated force without using it, and, secondly, it solved security problems in the territory which was relevant to the North Atlantic Treaty. After the Cold War, the bloc, which had been centred on the North Atlantic, began to try and solve global issues, and, in addition, it has been fighting since the 1990s. When politicians and strategists become overcome with megalomania, problems begin, Lukyanov summed up, expressing the hope that the CSTO will remain true to its mission.
The session participants showed solidarity in assessing the efficiency of the CSTO as a multilateral security organisation. Thus, Armen Ghevondyan, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, pointed out that in the CSTO, unlike the OSCE, security is not divided into central and peripheral zones, and the security issues of individual member states are of equal importance. Opinion was also unanimous with regard to the role of the CSTO in resolving the situation in Kazakhstan. As CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas noted, the member countries confirmed their unity and readiness to jointly protect their interests and security, and also “they gained practical experience and made sure that our methods are functioning”. In turn, Marat Syzdykov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan stressed that the CSTO acted quickly and decisively, and the presence of peacekeeping forces guarding critical infrastructure facilities allowed the Kazakh law enforcement forces to regroup and directly restore order.
Speaking about the current challenges to the CSTO countries Stanislav Zas noted that the situation in Afghanistan is of the greatest concern. Although there is no threat of direct military expansion from the Taliban (banned in Russia), the problems of drug trafficking and terrorism remain, so strengthening the Afghan-Tajik border is the most important common task, he stressed. In turn, Sodiq Imomi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, pointed out that drug aggression from Afghanistan is growing. Last year, opium production grew by 8%, and the Taliban, in the absence of other sources of income, has turned to drug trafficking, despite having previously distanced themselves from that. The country remains in a difficult socio-economic situation, aggravated by last year’s drought. All this makes Afghanistan a hotbed of instability, a breeding ground for extremism and a source of threats to its neighbours.
Another set of threats to the CSTO countries is associated, according to Stanislav Zas, with an increase in NATO military activity in Eastern Europe, where a large military grouping is building up. As Sergei Aleinik, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus, noted in his message to the conference participants, a number of NATO member countries are actively arming Ukraine, allegedly against the so-called Russian aggression, and the number of exercises by NATO countries has tripled over the past year. At the same time, the West accuses Belarus and Russia of aggravating the situation in the region, a fresh example of which is its nervous reaction to the Allied Resolve-2022 exercise beginning on February 10, preparations for which were carried out in an atmosphere of maximum transparency.