Begun as a military alliance in 1992, and with an updated charter signed in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in 2002, the Организация Договора о Коллективной Безопасности (Collective Security Treaty Organization) commonly known as the CSTO began as the security organization for the Commonwealth of Independent States, republics of the former Soviet Union.
More than a few Westerners are concerned that somehow the CSTO will morph into a future version of the old Soviet Union. Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who given the current unrest won’t remain in power all of the next 12 years, has said many times that anyone who wanted to reconstitute the CCCP didn’t have a brain but that anyone who didn’t mourn the passing of the CCCP didn’t have a heart.
Russia’s leadership sees the financial holes in the EU and the problems in the US and are working to constitute an economic zone based on oil and gas production in the former Soviet republics.
Ukraine has declined to participate but frankly it makes sense for Ukraine to be a part for security reasons and because they’re a key pipeline state. To paraphrase Putin, anyone who doesn’t want an independent Ukraine doesn’t have a heart, but those of us (ourselves included) who don’t see the long term obvious benefits of Ukraine to cooperate with her blood relatives & natural neighbors don’t have a brain.
Ukraine was the birthplace of the KievanRus, the birthplace of a future Russia and if she can grow up and be strong again then she will take her rightful place as an equal alongside “mother Russia.”
Here are the game changers for the region:
– There is obvious political unrest in Russia. Putin 12 months ago was thought invincible. Today he will have to resort to brut power to maintain control. Russians will at some point revolt. Today most experts agree that he will not remain in power another 12 years.
– Kazakhstan is beginning to challenge their “president for life.” He won’t be around in 12 years either. Today there are growing protests similar to Moscow in Kazakhstan and with 72 year old President Nazarbayev so closely tied to Vladimir Putin, there could be troubling days ahead.
– Belarus. Need one say more? This is a full-on police state and citizens can’t even clap in public without being arrested. For those not aware, that is a fact–this past year citizens, prohibited from demonstrating, held “clapping” demonstrations whereby they simply clapped their hands in public as a sign of protest. Their president for life outlawed clapping and arrests with prison sentences for public clapping showed citizens that he is serious. He won’t last 12 years either.
– Transnistria (the breakaway Moldovan republic, pro Russian) is challenging their strong armed long term president.
– Abkhazia: the breakaway Georgian republic which a handful of nations have recognized after the war with Georgia. A new election put Alexander Ankvab in power after the death of the previous leader. Although financed heavily by Russia, this breakaway republic has mafia issues that would make the Italians blush. The previous president endured no less than 5 assassination attempts by local mafia groups. There is no economy in this very poor part of the world, other than funding from Moscow. Given the level of poverty that exists, ordinary citizens are restless.
– South Ossetia: Another breakaway Georgian republic, another economic situation with funding coming from Moscow. Georgia. a WTO member since 2000 had veto power over Russia. Russia wanted the WTO and made a deal with Georgia to not use their veto power. The deal will have negative ramifications for both South Ossetia and Abkhazia long-term. This year new presidential elections saw Alla Dzhioyeva winning a runoff. However she was not Moscow’s favoured candidate and the South Ossetia claimed that somehow the election invalid. New elections are scheduled for March 2012, not long after Russia’s presidential election. The situation is become heated.
– Kyrgyzstan revolted and threw out their government in 2010. Fresh elections this past November put in a new President but things are still touch and go there.
– Uzbekistan’s president Islam Karimov doesn’t really run for re-election. He doesn’t have to as opposition parties are essentially outlawed. The parliament just keeps extending the length of his term. They had a blowup in 2005 and the pressure is building up again. It will blow at some point.
– Ukraine, even with all her problems, is somewhat of a beacon of stability in comparison with some of her neighbors. Ukraine also has natural resources that many of her neighbors don’t. Although tired of “colour revolutions” at this moment, the emerging trend in the region is towards greater respect for personal freedoms and human rights and the final script on Ukraine has yet to be written.
In all, a common economic zone would be good for this part of the world. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) saw the withdrawal of Georgia and Azerbaijan earlier but that will change. Once the current Russian administration is off the scene we’d expect olive branches to be extended both ways and it could be in the best long term interests of Georgia to return.
Finally there is the Islamic factor which is not politically correct for many Westerners to consider but is a large concern in the minds of folk like Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. Islam, no matter how one slices it, simply isn’t a peaceful culture. The themes of Islam are of domination and death. Russia needs predominately Christian countries like Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine to provide a counter balance to the threat of Islam both within her borders and the region as a whole.