The Prime Minister has participated virtually in the Joint SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization)-CSTO Outreach Session on Afghanistan.
What is CSTO?
- The CSTO is a Russia-led military alliance of seven former Soviet states that was created in 2002.
- Current CSTO members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan. Afghanistan and Serbia hold observer status in the CSTO.
- Its purpose is to ensure the collective defence of any member that faces external aggression.
- It has been described by political scientists as the Eurasian counterpart of NATO, which has 29 member states, while the CSTO has just six.
Outlined functions of CSTO
- CSTO supports arms sales and manufacturing as well as military training and exercises, making the CSTO the most important multilateral defence organization in the former Soviet Union.
- Beyond mutual defence, the CSTO also coordinates efforts in fighting the illegal circulation of weapons among member states and has developed law enforcement training for its members in pursuit of these aims.
What does CSTO membership provide?
- While CSTO membership means that member states are barred from joining other military alliances, limiting, for example, their relationship with NATO.
- Its members receive discounts, subsidies, and other incentives to buy Russian arms, facilitating military cooperation.
- Most importantly, membership presumes certain key security assurances – the most significant of which is deterring military aggression by third countries.
- In the CSTO, aggression against one signatory is perceived as aggression against all.
- It however remains unclear whether this feature works in practice.