Recent events of 2022 : Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has marked its 30th year, at anniversary summit hosted by Moscow in 2022.
What is CSTO ?
- It is an intergovernmental military alliance (six countries) that came into effect in 2002.
- Its origin can be traced to the Collective Security Treaty, 1992 (Tashkent Treaty).
- Headquarters is located in the Russian capital of Moscow.
What are the objectives CSTO?
- To strengthen peace, international and regional security including cybersecurity and stability.
- The protection on a collective basis of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the member states.
How many countries are the member of CSTO?
Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan.
What are the importance of Collective Security Treaty Organization?
• In 2007, it agreed to create a 3,600-strong peacekeeping force and two years later, it established a rapid-reaction force comprising 20,000 elite personnel who are kept on high alert.
• Joint exercises, including a series of high-profile “anti-terrorism” drills in response to the growing chaos in Afghanistan.
Recently, though, was the first time that the organization invoked Article 4, which is very similar to NATO’s Article 5. (Article 5 says that the response may include armed force, but it does not mandate it.)
• CSTO invoked Article 4 owing to the growing chaos in Kazakhstan as the President blamed foreign-trained “terrorist gangs” for the protests.
• Russia’s growing influence : For Russia, CSTO is a useful tool to tighten its grip on Central Asia, against both Western and Chinese encroachments.
It justifies Russian military facilities in member countries, while also giving Russia a veto over any other foreign bases in the region.
What is India’s Stake in Central Asia?
Cultural and Ancient Ties: The Silk Route connected India with Central Asia from the 3rd century BC to the 15th century AD.
Security: In December 2022, officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan arrived in India for the first India-Central Asia meeting of national security advisors.
- It highlighted the India-Central Asia relationship, common shared interests, such as stabilizing the security situation in Afghanistan and reinforcing territorial integrity.
Extended Neighborhood Policy: The ENP was launched in 2014
- It seeks to build a web of partnerships and economic cooperation with neighboring countries.
- To diversify its geopolitical partners and diplomatic goals.
- The policy emphasizes to promoting regional stability, peace, and prosperity through mutually beneficial cooperation with its neighbours.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):
- India joined SCO, as a full member in 2017.
- SCO provides India with a forum to establish security relationships with Astana, Bishkek, and Tashkent, adding on to robust ties with Tajikistan.
Connectivity as a Challenge:
- The Chabahar port in Iran offers an alternative route, but it is not fully developed yet.
- There have been suggestions that India should provide connectivity for people and trade in Central Asia through “air corridors”, as it had done for Afghanistan.
What should be the way forward?
- India must prioritize building long-lasting and reliable partnerships with Central Asian states.
- India should take advantage of the vulnerabilities that the region has been exposed to due to crises such as Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
- Joint counterterrorism efforts can help New Delhi establish itself as a consistent partner and monitor adversaries from a closer range.
India must also work on issues to supplement the security aspect and ensure that the relationship with Central Asia is not susceptible to geopolitical, economic, or domestic pressure.
Read also: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ( NATO)