Top security officials from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led defense alliance of seven former Soviet republics, met in Moscow on Monday to discuss how to respond to deadly rioting in southern Kyrgyzstan mainly targeting ethnic Uzbeks. Over 100,000 of them have fled to neighboring Uzbekistan in recent days.
National security chiefs from the CSTO member states attending the Moscow meeting reportedly proposed sending helicopters, equipment and possibly troops to the area in order to help the Kyrgyz authorities end the bloody unrest. CSTO Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha presented a joint anti-crisis proposal worked out by them to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev later on Monday.
“They [Kyrgyz authorities] have enough forces today but they do not have enough equipment, helicopters, ground transport ... even fuel,” Bordyuzha said, according to Russian news agencies.
Medvedev called the situation in the volatile Central Asian state “intolerable” and hinted at more aggressive measures, saying he might call an emergency summit of the CSTO “if the situation worsens,” Reuters news agency reported. He told Kyrgyzstan's interim leader Roza Otunbayeva earlier that “everything must be done to stop actions -- within the law, but harshly.”
Kyrgyzstan -- Ethnic Uzbek women cry and plea for help at a refugee camp 10kms outside of Osh in Nariman, 15Jun2010
The interim government appealed to Russia at the weekend to send in troops. Moscow said it would consult with the CSTO, which includes Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as well as Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.
Armenia was represented at the Moscow meeting by Artur Baghdasarian, the secretary of President Serzh Sarkisian’s National Security Council. His office declined to give any details of the emergency session and chances of Armenian involvement in a possible CSTO peace-keeping mission in Kyrgyzstan.
Senior members of the Armenian parliament did not rule out such possibility. “I think that after the meeting [in Moscow] Russia submitted a certain request to the other CSTO member states,” Hrayr Karapetian, chairman of the parliament committee on defense and security, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “The issue must now be discussed by their presidents. Let’s see what happens next.”
“This is an issue that requires detailed discussion,” said Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of President Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “Since Armenia is a member of the CSTO and has obligations, it is possible that there will be troop movements based on a decision to be made by that structure.”
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Sahakian said Armenian troop deployment in Kyrgyzstan will not require parliamentary ratification if it is carried out within the framework of a NATO-style rapid reaction force which the CSTO members except Belarus and Uzbekistan agreed to form in June last year.
The Russian military was due to commit by far the largest number of troops for the Collective Operational Reaction Forces (CORF). Armenian troop contribution to the force is still not clear.
Representatives of Armenia’s leading opposition forces indicated on Tuesday they do not object, in principle, to Armenian participation in a possible CSTO military operation in Kyrgyzstan.
“We have obligations within the CSTO framework, and in case of a particular turn of events, we can provide troops,” said Vladimir Karapetian of the Armenian National Congress. “I think that at yesterday’s meeting Armenia’s authorities received comprehensive information about the events in Kyrgyzstan which is necessary for making the right decision.”