CSTO Military Alliance Evolves Into Powerful Alternative to Nato at Minsk Summit

The CSTO military block will allow other countries to participate in their programs as partners. The main goal is to make the approaches to the member states’ borders safer. This is just one of the decisions that were made today at a summit in Minsk. Russia was represented at the meeting by Vladimir Putin.

The Organization member countries agreed to create a common list of terrorist organizations, and also noted Russia's decisive contribution to the defeat of ISIS in Syria.

Pavel Zarubin reporting.


Some backstage footage. A conversation of the defense ministers of Russia and Belarus. They’re as concentrated as possible. The CSTO summit, on which security is key, was held by Belarus with success and finesse.

President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin: The Collective Security Treaty Organization’s role is, of course, growing in the current acute international situation. Relations between the two nuclear powers, Russia and the United States, are in deep depression and are only getting worse. Minister Lavrov said right before the CSTO summit that the Trump team's tactics differ little from the Obama team’s actions.

Pavel Zarubin: “Is a total impasse awaiting us?”

Sergey Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister: "Well, the situation is depressing, according to some of our estimates. I listened to Rex Tillerson’s speech with regret. Almost all foreign policy problems that the United States is experiencing, according to him, are connected with Russia. And all the pathos was that Russia should nearly apologize. We have to state that any reasonable desires are subjected to the hardest tests from the anti-Russian Congress, and it's sad".

Pavel Zarubin: Will Russia take away the accreditations of American media covering the authorities?

Sergey Lavrov: The law is adopted, it’s a framework one, and it gives the opportunity to act in kind. As the president says, we’ll do.

In the situation of a serious geopolitical tension, the heads of the CSTO states signed a declaration today. Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan do not accept attempts to solve international problems and disputes with the use or threat of use of force.

The declaration: “In the conditions of preserving the conflict potential in international relations, our states made a convincing effort to ensure that the organization was able to provide a guaranteed response to any attempts to destabilize the situation, violate peace and security in its area of responsibility”.

Of course, Russia and the CSTO countries are concerned about what is happening or can happen right at their borders, on the Korean Peninsula. In recent days, there was one more surge of both harsh actions and harsh rhetoric.

Nikolay Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of Russia: "This is a topic that must be discussed and resolved diplomatically. In any case, we mustn’t allow military development".

Russia's position is well-known: everyone needs to cool down. Putin said this at the recent APEC summit in Vietnam.

President Putin: “We believe that this is a problem, we don’t recognize North Korea’s nuclear status. We call upon all the opposing and conflicting sides, at the same time, to reduce the degree of confrontation and find the strength to sit down at the negotiating table. There’s no other way to solve the problem. Russia and China proposed a roadmap for solving this problem, everything that needs to be done is set out step by step there. At first, stop the rhetoric, then stop all manifestations of aggression from all sides and eventually, sit down at the negotiating table”.

The new president of Kyrgyzstan arrived at the CSTO summit for the first time. The leaders discussed the three issues in detail personally, and agreed to adopt 21 issues as a package, all at once. President Putin’s pen, prepared by the organizers, for some reason, didn’t write. He told Lavrov about it and showed it to him. They laughed. Of course, the pen was soon replaced.

The CSTO countries agreed to jointly continue and increase the fight against terrorism, to stop illegal migration. Another reason is that under the guise of refugees, militants can enter other states to carry out sabotage and terrorist attacks.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus: "This is the conversation of the closest, I quote, the closest states in this world. We don’t have any that would be closer and more familiar to each other than those sitting at this table, unfortunately. But, maybe, fortunately”.

In Lukashenko’s residence, there’s a gallery of paintings given to him at different times by different presidents. The canvas Andreevsky Descent is on one of the most notable places. It is, as it’s written, a gift from Petr Poroshenko, received during Lukashenko’s official visit to Ukraine in July 2017.

But in recent weeks, there were some serious scandals in the relations between Minsk and Kiev. Ukrainian spies were caught in Belarus. Pavel Sharoiko, who worked undercover as a correspondent. There’s a flurry of comments on the Ukrainian television.

Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus: "It's not entirely justified to appeal to the fact that someone is a representative of the media, someone, perhaps, is a representative of the deputy corps, and someone else is a representative of some category of citizens. Therefore, I would ask for some time to wait before making some politically motivated statements".

It was in this palace, where the leaders gathered today, that almost 3 years ago that same Normandy group’s 16-hour meeting took place. The CSTO countries, of course, can’t help worrying about the difficult situation in Ukraine. Next year, Kazakhstan will be the organization’s chairman country.

Pavel Zarubin, Andrei Melnikov, Pyotr Ravnov and Yuri Lebedev, Vesti, Minsk.