In preparation for the 2014 withdrawal of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops from Afghanistan, there have been numerous discussions about what comes next. While a role for Russia and Central Asian states is often considered, a role for the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is typically overlooked. Afghanistan is on its way to becoming a missed opportunity for NATO-CSTO cooperation. This, however, does not mean there is no agenda at all for cooperation between the two alliances.
Created in 2002, the CSTO has consistently sought to establish official relations with NATO. Despite its willingness to establish official relations with NATO, however, the CSTO is rather ambivalent toward the Alliance. CSTO declarations less often mention the possibility of cooperation with NATO than they do the Alliance’s expansion and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defense systems in Europe.
For its part, NATO has been reluctant to work with the CSTO. NATO does not want to recognize the CSTO, something that is perceived by its members as a purely ideological Cold War holdover. NATO members have also not seen significant results from CSTO activities and tend to think it easier to negotiate significant issues bilaterally with Russia, which dominates the organization. In recent years, U.S. officials have not entirely excluded the possibility of cooperating with the CSTO on certain concrete issues like Afghanistan, but this has not translated into any clear efforts to do so. […]
How the CSTO Can (and Cannot) Help NATO
PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo No. 285
By Yulia Nikitina