The uncertain future of the CSTO
As the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Moscow-led regional security group, gathered today for informal talks, Dmitri Medvedev was gently scolded for being overdressed. Requested to loosen up, he took his tie off, so as to fit the mood of what Kazakh president Nazarbayev described as a ‘relaxed’ meeting.
The challenges facing the grouping are deadly serious, however. Created as a counterweight to NATO, the CSTO will soon have to deal with the impact of a Western withdrawal from Afghanistan, and still has to craft a response to the Arab spring and to simmering instability in Pakistan. Still - other observers reckon that Russia is not all that interested in all that. Despite its sometimes abrasive anti-West rhetoric, it remains more a post-imperial power than a neo-imperial one - and what binds all these states together is not a resurgent sense of shared identity, but the needs and proceeds of their thriving energy business.
The former USSR Republics are otherwise pulled in different directions towards Europe, China, Turkey, or the Middle East; and the CSTO, in fact, might not have much coming down the pipe.