Russia's post-Soviet security bloc is facing a wave of recent criticism that the organization is more talk than action. That accusation has long dogged the organization, but the recent burst of criticism comes at an awkward time as the crisis over Ukraine means that Russia is relying more and more on its non-Western allies.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and the criticism has been coming from several of those member-states. Last month, it was reported that Tajikistan is complaining that military aid promised to its border guards has been slow to arrive.
At a press conference last week in Bishkek, CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha had to defend the organization against accusations that it was ineffective.
"Everyone who talks about the ineffectiveness of the CSTO are talking complete nonsense," Bordyuzha said. "Only analysts who don't know the real picture and don't have full information can say that."
And on Monday, Bordyuzha met with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who also expressed his skepticism. "The Belarusian President noted that he would like to discuss a number of issues which have an impact on the performance of the organization in order 'to prevent it from turning into another fictitious organization,'" the state news agency Belta reported. (The report concluded laconically: "Nikolai Bordyuzha also put forward a number of proposals regarding military cooperation. Alexander Lukashenko approved some of them.")
Accusations that the CSTO as a paper tiger have followed the organization since it failed to intervene in the 2010 violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, the most serious security failure in the region since the group was formed. Since then, though, the CSTO has made a number of advances: it's moved forward on creating a joint air defense system, joint air forces, and rapid reaction troops, though it's still not clear how much of that is talk and how much action. From the grumbling from so many sides it's clear the CSTO is going to have to do more to build the confidence of its members that it will actually be able to deal with any security threats.