What is the CSTO and Why Are Its Peacekeeping Forces Being Sent to Kazakhstan?
The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) decided on Thursday to send its peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan amid raging protests in the Central Asian nation.
Several CSTO units are said to already be operating in Kazakhstan to help maintain order and stabilise the situation in the protest-hit country after a request for help from the government, according to a statement from the bloc's secretariat.
Here is a quick look at what the CSTO is and what it is expected to do in Kazakhstan.
Formed between 1992 and 2002, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation includes the following post-Soviet countries: Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
All participating states agreed to abstain from the use or threat of force, and aggression against one of the states is viewed as aggression against all CSTO members.
The alliance employs a so-called "rotating" presidency, with the country leading the group alternating every year.
The decision to send CSTO peacekeeping forces was announced by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who is currently the head of the Collective Security Council of the CSTO.
Peacekeeping Forces and Their Tasks
As the alliance puts on its website
, the CSTO peacekeeping force is a set of contingents designed to participate in the organisation's peacekeeping operations. Among these contingents are specially trained military, police, and civilian personnel, along with the forces and means provided by the member states.
The total number of CSTO peacekeeping personnel is some 3,600 people.
"The main tasks...will be guarding important state and military facilities and rendering assistance to the law enforcement of Kazakhstan in stabilising the situation and returning it to the legal framework", the CSTO said as it announced the deployment of these contingents to Kazakhstan.
Among the tasks that may be performed under peacekeeping operations are monitoring cease-fires and cease-fire agreements, separation of conflicting parties, creating conditions for negotiations, combating mass unrest, promoting human rights, protection and defence of vital facilities, and assuring access for humanitarian aid.
Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Konstantin Kosachev underlined that the CSTO will first and foremost concentrate on guaranteeing security and guarding military and civilian infrastructure, while it will remain to Kazakh law enforcement to ensure order in the country.
CSTO Member States on Peacekeeping Operation
Aside from the Russian portion of the peacekeeping forces transferred to Kazakhstan are those from other member states. The Russian Defence Ministry early Thursday shared a video of its contingents setting off for the Central Asian country.
6 January 2022, 09:54 GMT
The peacekeeping forces sent to Kazakhstan also consist of some 70 troops from Armenia, a Sputnik correspondent reported. They are set to guard important military infrastructure facilities amid the ongoing unrest.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry also confirmed that it had sent units to Kazakhstan, saying the situation in the Central Asian nations resembles an attempted coup.
Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon confirmed his country's intention to comply with its commitments under the CSTO agreement in connection with the situation in Kazakhstan. A source in Tajik law enforcement told Sputnik that the country is sending about 200 troops under the peacekeeping mission.
Kyrgyzstan's Defence Minister Baktybek Bekbolotov said that Bishkek may send rapid deployment units
The deployment of the CSTO peacekeeping forces is only possible when an agreement is reached between all member states. The request from Kazakhstan for the alliance to help was sent earlier on Wednesday, with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev voicing concerns that the protests that have engulfed his nation could be fuelled by "financially motivated" plotters from abroad.
According to Thursday reports from the local broadcaster Khabar 24, at least 12 law enforcement officers were killed during the violent protests in Almaty, with 353 others sustaining injuries.
The country's Health Ministry later said that the total number of those injured during the nationwide unrest has eclipsed a thousand.
A state of emergency was declared across all of Kazakhstan in the wake of the unrest, with President Tokayev vowing to treat offenders in the protests as decisively as possible. According to him, the situation in Kazakhstan may have been influenced by foreign parties, as he pointed to "gangs" operating in the country and alleged they have been trained abroad.
5 January 2022, 11:16 GMT
The protests have engulfed Kazakhstan since the very first days of 2022, starting on 2 January in the country's southwestern regions due to a surge in gas prices that followed the government's announcement of a new pricing policy. As the prices skyrocketed, people took to the streets of the regions of Aktau and Zhanaozen, with demonstrations later spreading across the entire nation.
Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, has been hit the hardest during the unrest, with multiple clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers and government and civilian buildings set on fire.
International airlines are delaying or cancelling Kazakhstan-bound flights amid the ongoing unrest, with multiple countries and blocs calling for de-escalation and dialogue.