CSTO: We Could -- But Won't -- Intervene In Ukraine
The Secretary General of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization was asked whether the group, which just finished peacekeeping exercises in Kyrgyzstan, might be able to intervene in Ukraine. That he didn't say "no" made news.
“The peacekeeping forces of the CSTO were formed several years ago and has undergone military preparation," said the CSTO chief, Nikolay Bordyuzha, in an interview with RIA Novosti on Friday. "The military personnel in its ranks are well-prepared in individual relations and equipped with all the needed military and technical means. They are ready to participate in peacekeeping operations of any caliber, as was confirmed by the results of recent joint drills in the Republic of Kyrgyszstan."
And he added that it would have to be a decision made jointly by the other CSTO members, which include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. “Deployment of the CSTO peacekeeping forces is within the jurisdiction of the Council for Collective Security of the Treaty, the supreme body of the CSTO consisting of the members’ heads of state. With their joint decision and in accordance with existing agreements, the peacekeeping forces can be deployed within and without the territory of member states."
Bordyuzha's comments got a lot of press attention, and his press secretary followed up by saying that there were in fact no plans to get involved in Ukraine. "The question of whether to send CSTO peacekeepers to Ukraine was not brought up... We just carried out peacekeeping exercises. We worked out variants of conducting an operation in support of peace. The fact that we are ready does not mean that a peacekeeping mission will be carried out in Ukraine." He added that for the CSTO to deploy outside the territory of a CSTO member state -- for example Ukraine, which isn't a member -- would require a UN mandate, which seems improbable.
Although the scenario of the CSTO exercises in Kyrgyzstan did eerily echo the situation in Ukraine, the non-Russian CSTO member states have kept their distance from that conflict, to the point that the organization had to formally state that Russia's allies would not be forced to fight in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, another alliance could be getting more involved in Ukraine. Ahead of the NATO summit, to be held next week in Wales, Ukraine's government has moved to start the NATO accession process: “In line with the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council’s decision, the Ukrainian government will introduce to parliament legislation on changing the non-aligned bloc status of the state of Ukraine and a renewal of the path toward Ukraine becoming a member of NATO,” said Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Friday.
And he said that he hoped NATO would help Ukraine: "NATO is our partner. We expect practical assistance and monumental decisions from our Western partners at the summit, which will take place September 4. We need help,” Yatsenyuk said.
Joshua Kucera, a senior correspondent, is Eurasianet's former Turkey/Caucasus editor and has written for the site since 2007.