CSTO, Humbled (Or Not) by Kyrgyzstan, Vows to Improve Intervention Force
The Collective Security Treaty Organization held a summit in Moscow at the end of last week, and on top of the agenda was the organization's nascent rapid reaction force. The CSTO, recall, has been positioning itself as a Russia-oriented NATO with the ability to intervene militarily and defend member states. But when CSTO member Kyrgyzstan erupted in violence earlier this year, the CSTO did nothing, exposing the organization to criticism that it is a paper tiger.
What exactly were the lessons of Kyrgyzstan for the CSTO? That depends on whom you ask.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke at the opening of the summit, and different press accounts have different takes on what he said:
Iran's Press TV: "The events in Kyrgyzstan became a test of strength of the organization. They revealed the need to refine the rapid reaction force."
China's People's Daily: "It is obvious to all of us that the events in Kyrgyzstan became a test of strength to the Organization. Through joint efforts we managed to stabilize the situation."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gave a somewhat vague pronunciation, which you could interpret many ways: "The organization did not commit any fatal mistakes" in Kyrgyzstan.
Whatever the case, the CSTO did agree that it was necessary to fix the rapid reaction capability. Lavrov, speaking before the summit, said that was the top priority: "The most important cluster of matters agreed upon today is the changes to be made to the statutes of the CSTO in order to improve the efficiency of our organization in the field of emergency response."
What those changes are have not been reported, except to note that there are 30 of them. Perhaps we'll see the next time a crisis breaks out in the region.