Putin Outlines Priorities of Russia’s Presidency in CSTO

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(RIA Novosti – SOCHI, September 23, 2013) ­ Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday named Russia’s priorities during its presidency in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance of former Soviet states.

The CSTO Council, the organization’s supreme ruling body comprising leaders of the six member states, gathered in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi. Kyrgyzstan handed over the CSTO presidency to Russia for next year.

“We consider it important to strengthen the borders of CSTO member states and improve mechanisms aimed at reducing risks for all members of the organization,” Putin said, addressing the summit’s participants.

He mentioned at an earlier meeting on Monday with presidents of CSTO member states ­ Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan ­ that the unpredictable development of the situation in Afghanistan after the planned 2014 withdrawal of foreign military forces from that country could pose a major threat to its neighbors.

“The development of the situation in Afghanistan under any scenario should not take us by surprise,” he said.

Putin emphasized further development of military cooperation and strengthening of the CSTO’s rapid-reaction force in light of future peacekeeping missions and the fight against drug-trafficking in the region.

The priority tasks will also include improved cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization ­ another regional player comprising former Soviet republics and China ­ as well as better coordination of security efforts in Central Asia and worldwide under the aegis of the United Nations.