The Collective Security Treaty Organization Before and After the Ukraine War: Some Implications for the South Caucasus

Until recently, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was a marginal actor in responding to major security crises in the former Soviet space. Despite receiving multiple requests for support from member governments, the CSTO did not use these opportunities to send military forces under its auspices, reflecting Russia’s preference to employ other means for managing these crises. The members resisted proposals to undertake major roles during the conflicts and crises in Afghanistan, Syria, and Kyrgyzstan. They also declined to intervene in the fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Furthermore, the article particularly highlights that the CSTO members rejected repeated Armenian demands for the organization’s support in its conflicts with non-CSTO member Azerbaijan. The CSTO did break with precedent when it sent peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan in January 2022 to assist the government to suppress violent domestic disturbances, but this intervention, supported by all the member governments, occurred due to a unique set of circumstance that may not soon recur. This paper also argues that despite the speculation abounds about a possible CSTO role in the Ukraine War, thus far, the organization has remained disengaged from the conflict, which Russia is waging on its own without foreign military assistance.

Authors: Richard Weitz