Russia's Military Allies Keeping Mum On Turkey Conflict
Russia's would-be military allies have been nearly silent on Moscow's rift with Turkey over the latter's shootdown of a bomber jet on the Turkey-Syria border last week, resulting in some consternation about what good the alliance is.
Russia leads the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military-security bloc whose other members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Russia called an urgent session of the CSTO's permanent council the day after the Su-24 was shot down, where Russian representatives showed their allies evidence that showed that their plane had not crossed into Turkish airspace, as Ankara had claimed.
The CSTO issued a statement afterwards saying that the participants called the shootdown "a grave violation of international norms with the gravest consequences." But the phrasing of the statement was ambiguous; as Belarusian website tut.by put it, "it wasn't specified whether this was Russia's position or the joint position of the CSTO."
In a piece headlined "A Friendly Silence," Russian news site Lenta.ru noted that Turkey's attack on the Russian jet could be clearly construed as an act of aggression. "So one would expect an adequate reaction from Russia's CSTO partners to Ankara's hostile act. But so far there has been no such reaction."
It's not clear what Russia wants; as CSTO spokesman Vladimir Zainetdinov told Lenta.ru, it doesn't need military help: "Russia can handle this on its own." But many Russians seem aggrieved that their CSTO allies haven't even spoken up in their defense.
"Analyzing the situation, a question arises: why do we need an organization like this? Why does Russia provide the CSTO members with constant aid -- political, economic, military-technical, and so on -- and in response these CSTO 'friends' stay quiet in Russia's difficult moment," wrote Vladislav Kolesnikov in one widely shared commentary. "To many it's become too clear that today Russia has no real friends."
Another commentary, on the website Geopolitika, told Russia's allies essentially, you're with us or you're with the terrorists. "Nothing will undermine the unity of the CSTO like the fear of some of its members to displease the West and its allies. All of this is framed as 'multi-vector policies'... This is political prostitution, when today you befriend one, and tomorrow harm the one you befriended yesterday. We won't forget how Kiev for two and a half decades explained its open participation in the anti-Russian projects of the West by the principles of multi-vectorality. Ukraine is a textbook example of what this sort of multi-vectorality leads to."
Thus far this sort of commentary is limited to the press and there hasn't been any open criticism of CSTO allies by Russian officials. But in the Kremlin they can't be happy with the tepid support they've gotten thus far.