CSTO Drills in Kazakhstan

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Within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), special military drills titled Search (Search/Poisk)-2022, Phase (Echelon-2022) and Interaction-2022, covering the dates of September 26-October 8, 2022, are being held in Kazakhstan. In addition to 6500 military personnel, 850 military vehicles consisting of warplanes, unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters participate in the drills held in the borders of Cambyl and Almaty provinces against emergencies.[1] These drills are important in many respects.

Conducting joint drills within the scope of CSTO in a period of regional conflicts such as Azerbaijan-Armenia, Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan and Russia-Ukraine[2] contains important messages. First of all, in addition to Russia and Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are among the member states of the CSTO. However, Armenia has decided not to participate in the drills. Because, during the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflicts that started on September 13, 2022, Armenia called for help to the CSTO; however, the security organization has declared that they do not plan to send peacekeepers to Armenia.

On the other hand, it is known that Kazakhstan did not favor sending CSTO Peace Forces to Armenia during the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflicts. The Astana administration displays such an approach within the framework of the respect and care it shows to the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of the countries.

As it will be remembered, the Astana administration stated that the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia should be resolved through peaceful means in the meetings held within the CSTO.[3] So that; it can be said that this is the reason why Armenia did not participate in the drills in Kazakhstan.[4] However, Yerevan declared that it did not participate in the drills in Kazakhstan due to the ongoing conflicts with Azerbaijan. In the statements of the CSTO regarding the conflicts between the two countries, the emphasis on the ceasefire came to the fore. For example, the CSTO stated that they are concerned about the conflicts that took place on 14-16 September 2022, which led to the death of civilians, that they welcome the ceasefire and negotiations, and that political and diplomatic means should be used to solve the problems.[5] However, after all these developments, it was suggested that Armenia would leave the CSTO.[6]

On the other hand, in October 2022, the CSTO troops will hold the Endurable Brotherhood-2022 drills in Kyrgyzstan and the Frontier-2022 drills in Tajikistan.[7] At this point, it can be said that the drills to be carried out within the CSTO can strengthen the military cooperation between the parties. At the same time, these drills can also be interpreted as that the relevant countries care about the CSTO in terms of their security.

Finally, on the basis of member states, it is necessary to mention Russia. Russia, which is currently at war with Ukraine, is trying to send a message to the Western World that it is strong and still has allies through drills. Especially Moscow, while the war continues; tries to show that everything is going as planned by participating in and/or organizing military drills. In this context, it can be said that Moscow aims to prove that the war in Ukraine does not prevent it and to increase its prestige.

The drill held in Kazakhstan is important for the CSTO as well. Because it is known that the Russian Army went through a difficult process in the Russia-Ukraine War. This situation directly affects organizations such as CSTO. Because, in the recent period when China-Taiwan tensions have escalated, the effectiveness of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has also been opened to discussion. Both the SCO and the CSTO wanted to show that they are strong with the summits and drills held thereafter.

As a result, the military drills organized within the CSTO coincided with an important period. Because some of the countries that are members of the organization are already engaged in various conflicts. While Russia is trying to regain its lost reputation in Ukraine; in fact, the conflicts also appear to be the future of the CSTO. In particular, Armenia’s inability to get what it wants from the CSTO despite being in a controversial position and the organization’s choice to remain a spectator in various conflicts affect the commitment of the member states to the organization. On the other hand, assigning a mission more than its capacity to the organization brings with it various problems and reactions. Because the CSTO will continue to exist as long as it is effective in solving the problems between its members. Otherwise, the continuation of the conflicts and the increase in conflicts will accelerate the loss of prestige of the organization and this will make its existence controversial.

[1] “Three CSTO Exercises Begin in Kazakhstan”, Belta,, (Date of Accession: 30.09.2022).

[2] “Kazakhstan to Host Russian-Led Bloc’s Military Drills”, Reuters,, (Date of Accession: 30.09.2022).

[3] Assel Satubaldına, “Kazakh President Urges Swift Resolution to Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Conflict at CSTO Extraordinary Session”, The Astana Times,, (Date of Accession: 30.09.2022).

[4] “Armenia Skips CSTO Drills in Kazakhstan”, RFE/RL,, (Date of Accession: 30.09.2022).

[5] “The CSTO Secretariat Commentary on the situation on the Kyrgyz-Tajik Border”, CSTO,, (Date of Accession: 30.09.2022).

[6] “ОДКБ отказала Пашиняну в военной помощи: росСМИ анонсируют выход Армении из организации Путина”,, (Date of Accession: 30.09.2022).

[7] “Russian-Led CSTO to Hold Military Maneuvers in Central Asia in October”, RFE/RL,, (Date of Accession: 30.09.2022).

Dr. Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Dr. Emrah Kaya, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Kaya, doktora derecesini de 2022 yılında aynı üniversitede hazırladığı "Terörle Mücadelede Müzakere Yöntemi: ETA-FARC-LTTE-PKK" başlıklı teziyle elde etmiştir. İyi derecede İngilizce bilen Kaya'nın başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, terörizm ve barış süreçleridir.