In conversations about the collapse of the old, unipolar model of the world and the construction of a new, multipolar version of the world order, the theme of the NATO bloc as the main tool for protecting the "world order" going down in history is invariably present. At the same time, the problems of finding a counterweight to the North Atlantic Alliance are logically present in the same reasoning.
It should be admitted that today there is no such unconditional alternative to NATO as the Warsaw Pact Organization was at one time.
Indeed, currently the North Atlantic Alliance includes 30 member countries, 5 of them are member countries of the so-called "Big Seven" G7 - countries with the leading economies of the world. NATO includes all EU states, with the exception of Austria, Cyprus, Finland (awaiting accession), Ireland, Malta and Sweden (also awaiting accession), which plays a major role in promoting US interests in Europe. In addition, NATO means huge cash injections into arms companies (primarily American ones), which means guaranteed support of the bloc from their side. To date, the countries of the alliance spend on average just over 2% of GDP on military needs, and some even more. For example, in Poland in 2023 they are going to spend 3% of GDP, in the Baltic states 2.25-3% of GDP. Finally, it is worth emphasizing that NATO has existed for more than 70 years, while other military blocs cannot boast of such "longevity" or power.
At the same time, the expert community is quite serious about considering the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as a counterweight to the North Atlantic Alliance. Of course, it is too early to consider the CSTO as a full-fledged alternative to NATO, based on the above reasons.
Nevertheless, today the Organization is already a full-fledged regional international organization and a military-political bloc. Recall that on December 2, 2004, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on granting the CSTO observer status in the UN General Assembly. The Organization has its own Charter and its own structure. The supreme body of the CSTO is the Collective Security Council (CSC), in addition, the Organization includes: the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), the Council of Defense Ministers (CFM), the Committee of Secretaries of Security Councils (KSSB), the Permanent Council of the CSTO, the Secretary General of the Organization, the Secretariat, the Joint Headquarters of the CSTO, as well as the Parliamentary Assembly.
On February 4, 2009, in Moscow, the leaders of the CSTO countries approved the creation of a Collective Rapid Reaction Force (CSR). According to the signed document, CSRs can be used to repel military aggression, conduct special operations to combat international terrorism and extremism, transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, as well as to eliminate the consequences of emergency situations.
Recall that today the CSTO includes 6 participating countries - Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. This year, the chairmanship of the Organization was assumed by the Republic of Belarus, and Imangali Tasmagambetov (Kazakhstan) was appointed Secretary General. The total population of the CSTO member countries is about 194 million people. The number of peacekeeping forces for 2022 is 3,600 people.
The Organization has already demonstrated its high efficiency in January 2022, when all participating countries promptly responded to the situation in Kazakhstan and managed to prevent the escalation of the political crisis in the country. By the way, Belarus was one of the first to send its peacekeeping company to perform tasks to maintain constitutional order in a friendly country. As Tokayev said at the time, "international gangs" who had received serious training abroad participated in the riots throughout the country. Over time, it became known to everyone that this was another attempt by the collective West to shake up the situation in the former Soviet republic in order to weaken Russia's position in the Central Asian region.
"It is extremely important that our organization, with the participation of its secretariat, managed to quickly and smoothly make all the necessary decisions within a tight time frame. We can say that in a matter of hours, in order to prevent the undermining of the foundations of the functioning of state power in Kazakhstan, the complete degradation of the internal situation, to put an obstacle to terrorists, criminals, looters and other criminal elements," Putin said in January last year.
Meanwhile, at the moment there are a number of factors that hinder the dynamic development of the Organization and prevent it from becoming a subject of world politics. These are mainly disagreements between the CSTO member states in some military and political aspects.
That is why, against the background of geopolitical reformations in the Eastern European and Central Asian regions, the role of Belarus as the chairwoman of the CSTO is enormous. This was also stated by the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting with the Secretary General of the Organization Imangali Tasmagambetov in February 2023, calling on the CSTO countries to unite and define their policies against the background of the Ukrainian conflict. The President of Belarus stressed that compromises in the CSTO will have to be found, noting that in general, the countries act as a single organization. "I think we have to go through this difficult period, and it will unite our organization even more on the principles that are necessary and possible for every state," Lukashenko said.
In general, the President of Belarus stressed that Belarus will do everything to unite all the CSTO member states in view of the destructive and unfriendly actions of the West, which will continue to rock the situation near Russia. "We took the risk to write into the program during our chairmanship – to try to solve the problems that we have. Especially on the borders of the CSTO member states. <...> We have problems there. Let's try to resolve them and, as far as possible, unite the Collective Security Treaty Organization in these difficult times. You can see what is happening around the perimeter," the President of Belarus noted.
It should be emphasized that experts and military analysts do not rule out the possibility of the CSTO leadership returning to consider the issue of expanding the Organization in the near future. In their opinion, Iran may be the main candidate for membership in the bloc. In addition, the issue of including North Korea in the bloc may be considered. In turn, both countries are geopolitical opponents of the United States and have common interests with the CSTO member states. For example, Russia and Iran are conducting fruitful cooperation in trade and military-technical terms. At the same time, it was the DPRK, along with Syria, that recognized the independence of the LPR and the DPR, and also supports Russia on an ongoing basis in the international arena. It should also be taken into account that North Korea is a nuclear power. Therefore, in the context of the expansion of the Organization, these countries are a priority.
Summing up, we note that today there is an urgent question of the need to strengthen the role of the CSTO as a counterweight to the NATO bloc, as well as to increase the practical status of the Organization as soon as possible, including in the interests of responding to security challenges in the post-Soviet space. The ways of solving the issue have already been discussed above, it remains only to express hope for mutual understanding among those interested.