Vladimir Putin strengthens CIS military integration
This chapter examines Putin’s attempts, after he became President, to boost military integration between Russia and the CIS states within the CSTO framework. It describes and analyses, in detail, the various initiatives brought forward by Russia and implemented by the CSTO member states to turn the Collective Security Treaty into an effective military organisation capable of addressing the newly-emerging regional security threats and ensuring Russia’s own defence protection. The chapter shows that Russia’s polices, to a certain extent, turned the CSTO into an instrument of Russia’s hegemony in the CIS/CST region, and allowed Russia partly to keep the region under its ‘sphere of influence’. However, the chapter also contends that there were clear limits to Russia’s ability to recreate a unified and effective military organisation within the former Soviet space, due to the reluctance of several CSTO state to advance further down the path of military integration. Moreover, in the 2000s, Russia’s hegemony in the CIS/CSTO space started to be challenged by NATO’s and China’s growing penetration of the CIS region, On the other hand, this chapter also argues that all those countries which formed part of the CSTO, welcomed Russian military support, and therefore Russia’s actions cannot be seen as entirely fitting the neo-imperialist model, even though the CSTO allowed Russia potentially to expand its influence over these states.
This chapter also examines the progress that was made towards closer military integration during the 2010s. It explains how, in the aftermath of the Georgian–Russian war, when Russia found itself on the verge of direct military confrontation with the West, Medvedev expanded the military capabilities of the CSTO. The chapter shows how, in order to develop Russia’s military potential and its power-projection capabilities, Medvedev pushed for the creation of rapid-reaction forces, in permanent readiness, within the CSTO framework, besides expanding CSTO peacekeeping operations and establishing collective aviation forces. The chapter also describes efforts to enhance the CIS/CSTO air defence systems, intelligence and security cooperation, and as well as bilateral military ties. The chapter in turn, also examines the limits of military cooperation within the CSTO framework – the reluctance of the CSTO to intervene in times of internal crisis; the difficulties in establishing a congruent or homogenous military organisation; and the decision by CSTO states to develop military ties with other external actors. However, the chapter also shows how the CSTO granted Russia strategic depth and the ability to operate globally as the leader of a coalition of like-minded states.