Meeting with defense ministers of CSTO member states

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Belarus pays much attention to the efficiency of the operation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with the defense ministers of the CSTO member states in Minsk on 13 June.

In his welcoming remarks, the head of state pointed out that the year 2017 marks the 25thanniversary of the signing of the Collective Security Treaty and the 15thanniversary of the Organization. “During all theses years, the military and political situation in the CSTO area of responsibility has never been stable. Today we are observing its further deterioration. You are well aware of the processes unfolding in the collective security regions. I believe that our opinions regarding the current status of threats in different security areas coincide,” the President noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that when assuming chairmanship of the Collective Security Council, Belarus suggested a number of initiatives, including military ones. The country put forward the idea to take measures to ensure practical implementation of the CSTO Collective Security Strategy, improve the crisis response system, and step up the cooperation in the military industry and technology. “The measures are dictated by the Organization’s development course, and by our vision of how to solve the issues at hand. The issues of practical cooperation and stability in the regions come to the fore today. We need to understand that all the CSTO’s activities aimed at ensuring security are interrelated. The unsettled issues in some practical areas inevitably cause a slow-down in the development of the whole mechanism,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

The OSCE member states have designated their best trained divisions of the national armed forces to the Collective Rapid Response Forces. The head of state stressed that the CSTO Collective Security Council took a decision to equip the Collective Rapid Response Forces with the state-of-the-art and, what is more important, compatible weaponry. This is envisaged in the agreement on the Collective Rapid Response Forces. According to the President, little progress, however, has been made so far. “In such a situation the collective forces cannot achieve their full potential. Hence, we should intensify our efforts in this area,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.

The President believes that there is a need to accelerate the work on the agreement on the joint technical support of the CSTO Collective Rapid Response Forces. The document has been developed as part of the corresponding system of material and technical support of the forces. “Its implementation will help us address many issues related to the support of the Collective Forces activity both in part of executing combat tasks and conducting exercises,” the head of state noted.

Upon the initiative of the Belarusian side, plans have been made to test a new comprehensive format of joint training of the CSTO Collective Rapid Response Forces in autumn. This will be an operational and strategic exercise. This exercise will help evaluate the preparedness of staffs and armies for joint actions, the head of state said. “It is important not only to train the troops in various regions of collective security in the common environment of the exercise but also to work out a plan of action to prevent modern challenges which have already acquired hybrid forms. These are today’s realities, and they require adequate response from the CSTO,” the President believes.

In this context, Belarus has supported an initiative to create an interstate information interaction system, including in the CrisisResponseCenter and corresponding national agencies. Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that it is very important for these bodies to be fully operation not only in the period of a drastic escalation of the situation but only on an everyday basis.

The head of state also spoke about the obligations of pour country in integration associations. “You know perfectly well that Belarus is responsible for the western direction as part of the UnionState [of Belarus and Russia] and the CSTO. It is Belarus’ responsibility area. Our entire army is focused on it together with the Russian Federation. We have a clear-cut action plan for various situations,” he said.

The Belarusian-Russian army exercise Zapad 2017 will take place in Belarus this autumn. “Regardless of any pressure we will stage this exercise. And we intend to arrange a large-scale and very serious exercise at that,” the President stated. “I know that the mood in Russia is exactly the same. We are not trying to scare anyone. We don’t need someone else’s riches. This is why we are going to practice all the things that our potential competitors are practicing. We train the army and will train it to protect our territory, our state, and our nations.”

The head of state said that the exercise will be transparent. “We will invite all the defense ministers, who are present here today, and more than that. It will be an open exercise. They will be free to watch our capabilities. We are very seriously intent on holding a very effective exercise in Belarus. We will try to make the exercise versatile and large so that our military — in Russia and in Belarus — could feel what they protect in this direction and what commitments they have to honor,” he said.

The head of state also assured that Belarus appreciates the fact that the country has been entrusted with guarding the western direction. “As always, we implement all the measures in a very responsible manner so that our potential adversary would abandon all thought that our army is not ready and that our joint Belarusian-Russian armed force is not ready to repulse any strike by the potential adversary,” the President said. Aleksandr Lukashenko added that Belarus will always be true to its commitments concerning the collective rapid response forces.

CSTO Secretary General Yuri Khachaturov, in turn, said that Belarus has always been a crucial factor of ensuring stability in the Eurasian space. He thanked Belarus for its contribution to the enhancement of collective security. “It is very easy to work with Belarus at all platforms, all issues are solved. We are very grateful to you for it,” Yuri Khachaturov continued. In his words, the CSTO has already determined a number of pending tasks. They are connected with the priorities of Belarus’ chairmanship in the organization.