CSTO: at the Close of the Second Decade of Its History

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-7-126-134
A. Krivopalov (krivopalov@centero.ru), 
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Received 03.07.2020.

Abstract. Following the events of 1991, Russia established either bilateral or multilateral relations with most of the independent states that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union. In each individual case, these relations were characterized by a specific set of advantages and disadvantages. The article explores the evolution of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) through the lens of this fundamental duality. This overview in no way claims to be a complete or exhaustive study on the subject. However, its relevance is supported by the fact it moves beyond the purely descriptive approach which still dominates the study of the CSTO and the crisis that has gripped the organization. There is a demand for a clearer structural and theoretical framework explaining the difficulties Russia has faced in promoting its integration efforts in the post-Soviet space. The undeniable advantage of the bilateral approach is its institutional simplicity. In a multilateral system or a block of states, it is far more difficult to coordinate the interests of every individual nation, especially if they maintain membership in a number of integration groups at the global or regional level. One of the strengths of the multilateral format, which involves a stricter adherence to collective obligations, is that it serves as a structural framework for major integration projects that can have a significant positive effect on the international standing of those who initiate them. The author concludes that in 2002–2008, during the early period of CSTO’s existence, cooperation was predominantly multilateral in nature, with the participating countries – those representing the Central Asian core of the organization – rallying around Moscow, unified by the commonly perceived threats generated by the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. However, even at this early stage, there were signs within the CSTO foreshadowing a shift from multilateral military-political cooperation to a more basic format – that of a collection of bilateral ties between Russia and its allies. The past 20 years of Russia’s relations with its neighbors have demonstrated that the historical momentum for convergence is, in fact, not strong enough to offset the centrifugal forces pulling nations away from one another. 

Keywords: foreign policy, Central Asia, strategy, CSTO, Russia, CIS, military-technical cooperation, USA, Afghanistan


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For citation:
Krivopalov A. CSTO: at the Close of the Second Decade of Its History. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 7, pp. 126-134. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-7-126-134

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