The Republic of Armenia chaired the videoconference meeting, which was devoted to the situation in Kazakhstan and measures to normalise it.
Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Akylbek Japarov, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation Stanislav Zas.
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Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan: Good morning, colleagues.
Following an appeal from the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and with your support, we are holding, via videoconference, an extraordinary session of the CSTO Collective Security Council.
Today, the Republic of Kazakhstan has announced a national day of mourning, and before we start our work, I ask you to honour the memory of those who died as a result of the events that took place in the Republic of Kazakhstan with a minute of silence.
(Minute of silence)
Thank you. Please take your seats.
I suggest we continue the session and start with the agenda. There is one issue that has been proposed – the situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan and measures to normalise it. If there are no additional proposals, I suggest we approve this agenda.
As I understand, there are no objections, and therefore I suggest that after my brief introductory remarks, which are part of the discussion of the matter at hand, the floor should go to President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who will report on the developments in his country. Next to speak is CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas, who will report on the implementation of the decisions adopted by the CSTO’s Collective Security Council and Defence Ministers’ Council on providing assistance to the Republic of Kazakhstan. After that, I suggest that the floor go to the Collective Security Council members in alphabetical order and next to the Prime Minister and Head of the Executive Office of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic for an exchange of views.
Is this order of proceedings acceptable? Then let us start our work.
Colleagues, Mr Secretary General of the CSTO.
Thank you for your prompt response and for your participation in today’s extraordinary session of the Collective Security Council on the situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan and measures to normalise it.
In view of the developments in the country, developments fraught with further escalation, the President of Kazakhstan officially appealed to the CSTO Collective Security Council. Based on this appeal and in keeping with the Collective Security Treaty and the CSTO Charter, I, acting in strict compliance with the functions of the current CSC Chairman, have launched the mechanism of consultations with the heads of CSTO member states.
Given Kazakhstan’s official appeal and taking into consideration the tendency for rapid developments, as well as in view of an emerging threat to the country’s security, stability and sovereignty, in order to normalise the situation in Kazakhstan, the CSTO Collective Security Council has adopted a consensus decision to send peacekeepers to Kazakhstan for a limited period of time to guard strategically important facilities in line with the Collective Security Treaty, the CSTO Charter, and the CSTO Agreement on Peacekeeping Activities.
Colleagues, now I would like, as we have agreed, to give the floor to President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Please, Mr Tokayev.
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Colleagues,
The holding of our extraordinary summit is linked with extreme events: for several days in January, Kazakhstan went through a grave crisis that was the worst in its entire 30-year history of independence. Our organisation has not faced a threat at this level, either.
I would like to thank our Chairman, Nikol Pashinyan for the prompt coordination of the necessary documents. I would also like to convey my special words of gratitude to President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin for the understanding and quick solution of the issue of sending a CSTO peacemaking contingent to Kazakhstan. Mr Putin, we have been in constant contact with you since the first days of the terrorist attack on our country. I am grateful to Alexander Lukashenko, Sadyr Japarov and Emomali Rahmon for the political and even combat fraternity.
Today, we are having a day of nationwide mourning over those killed during the days of tragedy in Kazakhstan. I am sincerely grateful to you for your condolences.
I would like to express my gratitude to CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas and the entire cohesive team of the Secretariat and the United Staff of our Organisation.
In fact, this is the first case where the CSTO has used its peacemaking potential in practice to ensure the security, stability and integrity of one of its members. For us, not only the military but also and primarily the moral support of our CSTO partners is of principle importance. All CSTO member states acted as a united front and resolutely supported Kazakhstan’s request.
Now I would like to tell you about the current developments in our country and the events of the past few days. Having a full picture of these events, I can say with responsibility that all the events that have taken place since the beginning of this year are links in the same chain. They are part of a single destructive scenario that has been in preparation for a long time. Investigation will reveal whether these preparations were made over one, two or three years.
Destructive forces made numerous attempts to undermine stability and start a rampage. The state was tested for stability and resistance. All these efforts were cut short resolutely, but the organisers did not abandon their plans and started preparing for armed action. They used public discontent over vehicle fuel prices as a pretext in several regions. Rallies were held, during which protesters advanced socio-economic and socio-political demands.
The state took these demands into account and acted on them. The government withdrew, prices of LPG fuel have been reduced and frozen. We announced the adoption of a package of practical socio-economic measures and a clear-cut plan of socio-political reforms.
But it no longer mattered for the organisers of this aggression against Kazakhstan. Spontaneous rallies were used as a pretext for provoking civil unrest. Religious radicals, criminals, outright thugs, looters and petty hooligans filled the streets as if on cue. Socio-economic and socio-political demands were put on the back burner, they were forgotten. Next followed the hot phase, and armed fighters, who were biding their time, took over.
The main goal of these events became clear – to undermine the constitutional system, destroy governance institutions and seize power. It is obvious now that these armed activities were coordinated from a single centre, and the carefully planned operation entered its decisive phase.
Proof of this is provided by the simultaneous – I repeat, simultaneous – attacks on the buildings of regional governments, law enforcement agencies, pretrial detention centres, strategic facilities, banks, the TV tower and television channels. They seized airports, blocked motorways and railway lines and hindered the operation of ambulances and fire-fighters.
During attacks on military units and checkpoints, the thugs attempted to seize weapons and military equipment. Real fighting went on in Almaty and several other cities. For example, the attack on the Interior Ministry department in Almaty went on for two nights. The police repelled the attacks. Seven armourers’ shops were seized in Almaty alone. These attacks were staged by trained professionals, including snipers armed with special rifles.
The terrorists used special communication equipment and wore military and police uniforms. They cynically used the protesters as human shields. Using their five-fold superiority in terms of numbers, the thugs attacked our police and military personnel, beating them up with extreme brutality, decapitating two of them. There were barbarous attacks on hospitals.
Seeking to stretch the state’s resources, the masterminds organised their attack across a wide front. Their aggression was taking place across 11 regions simultaneously, but their main blow was directed at Almaty. As you know, this is the largest city in Kazakhstan, the country’s financial centre, which also serves as the main transport and communications hub. Losing control of this city would have paved the way to losing the densely populated southern part of the country and then the country in its entirety. Terrorists hoped to stretch thin the law enforcement agencies and then attack the capital of Kazakhstan. We have seen fighters converge on the President’s residence. In fact, this was a real war unleashed by terrorists against our state using various methods.
We had to take unprecedented measures in response. Kazakhstan’s military and law enforcement agencies have succeeded in mobilising themselves, rebuffing the attackers, and taking control of the situation. Unfortunately, this came at a very high cost: there were casualties in the military and law enforcement agencies, as well as among civilians, with 16 members of law enforcement and the military dead and over 1,300 wounded. Unfortunately, there were also civilian casualties, although we have yet to obtain the exact figures.
More than 1,270 businesses were affected across the country, with more than 100 shopping centres and banks looted. The police alone lost about 500 vehicles, either damaged or burnt. The physical damage has been huge, and a special government commission has been tasked with assessing it.
I can tell you in all certainty that terrorists, including foreign fighters, were directly involved in the aggression against Kazakhstan. It was not a coincidence that the criminals attacked morgues at night to collect and drive away with the corpses of their dead accomplices. They also took the corpses of fighters from the battlefield. We know what kind of international terrorists do this: this is how they cover up their tracks. It is obvious that they want to sow chaos in our country to seize power.
In keeping with the resolution of Kazakhstan’s Security Council and based on a comprehensive analysis carried out by the law enforcement agencies and special services, we designated these developments as a terrorist threat and an act of aggression. These developments reached a critical point when criminals took control of Almaty and nine regional capitals. This is when we declared a counter-terrorist operation.
Kazakhstan turned to the CSTO for assistance, which proved to be extremely timely. When the fighters learned that three cargo planes had arrived in the country’s capital, they gave up on their plan to seize the President’s residence. This enabled us to send more forces to Almaty and recapture the city from the hands of the terrorists.
To date, in accordance with the Collective Security Council’s decision, the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces of 2,030 troops and 250 pieces of equipment have been deployed in the Republic of Kazakhstan and have begun to fulfil their assigned tasks. They are protecting and ensuring the security of airports, military depots and other strategic facilities. We will later hear the CSTO Secretary General’s report on the situation and progress.
As I have said, this is the first CSTO peacekeeping mission. I am sure that the organisation will gain useful, positive experience, will analyse problem areas, draw appropriate conclusions, and make adjustments to its regulatory documents.
Overall, I would like to emphasise that the CSTO has shown its relevance and effectiveness as a high-profile military-political organisation, an operational mechanism to ensure the stability and security of our states.
The recent events have actually become a turning point in the organisation’s development; the CSTO has acquired new qualities as a strong international institution. The threats faced by Kazakhstan are common to the entire collective security space; therefore, it is important for us to further strengthen the organisation’s powerful potential, and Kazakhstan will contribute to this.
One of the possible recommendations may be to optimise crisis response time. We must also make and approve the Collective Security Council and other bodies’ decisions more efficiently.
It is also important to ensure maximum political support for the decision to use the CSTO peacekeeping forces, especially from the United Nations and other major international platforms, leading media outlets and think tanks from different countries.
We can see already that the legitimacy of deploying the CSTO forces in Kazakhstan is being questioned. This is happening due to a lack of reliable information and a misunderstanding of the entire situation. In some cases, the international community, including foreign media, seems to entertain entirely incorrect interpretations of both the use of CSTO forces and the overall situation in Kazakhstan.
Despite the available evidence, some sources are claiming that the Kazakhstani authorities are cracking down on a peaceful protest. This is absolute misinformation. We have never used and will not use armed force against peaceful demonstrators.
Being aware of this, those behind the attack on Kazakhstan have orchestrated several waves of aggression. Early on, as I mentioned, peaceful protests took place. Then, political rallies were held in Almaty among other places, after which armed militants rushed into the city from three directions like a huge pack of hyenas. At first, they pretended to be peaceful demonstrators and misled the law enforcement units and even city residents, and what followed will probably go down in history as the Almaty tragedy.
In the meantime, the UN Charter recognises each state’s inalienable right to individual – I stress – or collective self-defence in the event of an armed attack from outside.
Soon, after the preliminary investigation is complete, we will present additional evidence to the international community that corroborates the preparation and holding of a terrorist aggression against our country.
As we are seeing, individual media outlets and public institutions continue to plant false information based on fabrications and unverified facts. I am confident that international organisations, including the UN, the OSCE, the SCO, and the CIS, as well as international humanitarian organisations, are interested in a full and impartial investigation into the illegal actions of terrorists, criminals, and wrongdoers.
At the same time, we should not jump to hasty conclusions. I thank everyone, who from the very beginning remained confident that Kazakhstan would overcome this difficult stage in our modern history. This is particularly true of the CSTO. I am convinced that acting jointly, we will make the temporary deployment of CSTO peacekeeping efforts in Kazakhstan as safe and effective as possible. The truth of the matter is that the CSTO peacekeeping contingent’s mission was extremely effective and useful.
I think this is a lesson that Kazakhstan must learn, but I think it will be useful for all CSTO member states as well. In no case should we allow an information vacuum to be filled by instigators or ill-wishers. Unfortunately, this is still the case in Kazakhstan.
In these circumstances, our recent decision to establish the institution of a CSTO Secretary General Special Envoy for peacekeeping activities has confirmed its relevance.
I would like to make it clear that we will be firm in defending the right of the people of Kazakhstan to freely express their will and to engage in an open dialogue with the authorities. At the same time, we will crack down on any forms of violent extremism and even more so on any hostilities in Kazakhstan like the ones that have been taking place over the past few days. We will not tolerate any attacks against Kazakhstan’s state sovereignty or territorial integrity.
Let me assure you that Kazakhstan will firmly abide by its international commitments.
We have restored constitutional order in Kazakhstan and averted dangerous threats to the country’s security. As part of the counterterrorist operation, we are working to identify those who were involved in the crimes.
As of today, the police have detained some eight thousand people. The law enforcement agencies and the special services are about to verify whether they were involved in terrorist acts, killings, looting or other crimes. We have confiscated 116 weapons.
This is an ongoing operation, and since the fighters on the run are using new tactics to conceal themselves by wearing civilian clothes, shaving their beards, etc., we are also making the necessary adjustments to the way we operate. We have a lot of work ahead of us and have even reached out to veterans from the law enforcement agencies and the military to assist us in these efforts. All state agencies are working hard to bring the country back to normal.
Tomorrow I will submit my proposals on the new cabinet to parliament and will set forth specific objectives for overcoming urgent socioeconomic challenges. The large-scale counterterrorist operation will end soon, and with it, the successful and effective mission by the CSTO forces will also end.
Most importantly, we need to prevent events of this kind from repeating across our collective security space. I think that this is our core mission for the near future. Kazakhstan is ready to move in this direction and will always stand by its allies.
Thank you for your attention.
Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Tokayev, for sharing this meaningful update.
I now give the floor to CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas, who will report on carrying out the resolutions of the Collective Security Council and the CSTO Council of Defence Ministers to assist the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Mr Zas, please.
Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation Stanislav Zas: Mr Chairman and members of the Collective Security Council,
Based on the current situation in Kazakhstan and the address by President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and in view of implementing your agreements to send the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces to Kazakhstan, the CSTO Secretariat and United Staff have immediately started drafting legally justified resolutions on conducting a peacekeeping mission and coordinating the deployment of the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
On January 6 of this year we sent, for your approval, a draft decision by the Collective Security Council on normalising the situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan. I would like to thank you for the quick adoption of this document, which allowed us to start moving forces to Kazakhstan on the same day.
At your instructions, and under the Agreement on CSTO Peacekeeping Activities, we informed the members of the UN Security Council, via the UN Secretary-General, of the adopted decisions on holding a peacekeeping operation in the Republic of Kazakhstan. I have also reported this to my OSCE and SCO counterparts. At the same time, we explained to the media the underlying reasons for the decisions and mechanisms for implementation.
Fulfilling your decision on the following day, January 7, the CSTO Council of Defence Ministers established the Collective Peacekeeping Forces. Commander of the Airborne Forces of the Russian Federation Colonel-General Andrei Serdyukov was appointed commander of these forces. By the same decision, the Council of Defence Ministers determined the tasks of these forces and settled other issues.
In effect, we spent two days on the organisational procedures. Simultaneously, we were deploying the Collective Peacekeeping Forces. Yesterday, we fully completed this deployment.
Over four days, Russian Aerospace Forces planes made over 108 flights. We have deployed contingents of the Collective Peacekeeping Forces in the cities of Nur-Sultan, Almaty, and Almaty Region. We have established command posts in the Military Institute of Ground Troops in Almaty.
Logistical support for military contingents is provided by the supporting states or on a bilateral or multilateral basis.
In accordance with the plan of operation coordinated with the Kazakh side, the Collective Peacekeeping Forces began to take steps to strengthen the guarding and defence of important military and government facilities, as well as to create conditions for stabilisation in their zones of responsibility.
The CSTO crisis response centre, where we are now, provides for a round-the-clock exchange of updates with the Collective Peacekeeping Forces command and the defence ministries of the CSTO member states.
An operations group led by the deputy chief of the Joint Staff has been dispatched to Kazakhstan to coordinate the Collective Peacekeeping Forces.
I am flying to Kazakhstan tomorrow, as agreed with the President of Kazakhstan and a representative of the Council, to review the situation on the spot and to meet with the commander and the leaders of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Members of the Collective Security Council,
To date, all the necessary steps have been taken to fulfil your decision to launch the CSTO peacekeeping operation.
Yesterday I spoke with the commander of the Collective Peacekeeping Forces, Colonel-General Serdyukov. According to his report, there are no problems that would need to be addressed at the heads of state level.
By the way, it was quite gratifying yesterday to hear the General, the commander of our peacekeeping group, who said that any welfare or organisational issues that arise are resolved right away. Special gratitude has been extended to the Ministry of Defence of Kazakhstan, of course. He said we live and accomplish our tasks as one family.
Members of the Collective Security Council,
In conclusion, I admit that this is our first experience with such an operation. Later on, we will certainly have time to calmly debrief, learn our lessons and draw conclusions. But even now, one can definitely draw one conclusion, the most important one: the peacekeeping potential and the mechanism for its use, which has been created in our organisation, really works and is suitable for achieving the set goals.
Thank you for your attention.
Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Zas.
I now give the floor to President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.
Please, Mr Lukashenko.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Pashinyan, colleagues,
First of all, I would like to thank Mr Tokayev for his detailed report on the situation in the republic.
Today, the President has announced a day of national mourning. On behalf of the people of Belarus, please accept our condolences in connection with the death of Kazakhstani law enforcement officers, service personnel and civilians.
Of course, an assessment of developments in Kazakhstan highlights the presence of an external factor. They have a recognisable scenario, as the President of Kazakhstan has noted. One can mention quite a few other similar developments, including those in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Afghanistan. Belarus also experienced a similar combined onslaught not so long ago.
Of course, these countries had their own peculiarities, but the overall trend is obvious. Yes, we now talk a lot about foreign involvement, and the President of Kazakhstan is right in saying that the names, surnames, addresses, passwords and secret addresses of these activists will soon be made public.
But we should understand that the external factor will not be the only one, and that it is necessary to see domestic factors behind all external factors. We have learned this lesson from Belarusian developments. We should realise that too many entities around the people and the state of Kazakhstan (whom we consider near and dear) also want to destabilise the situation around former Soviet Central Asian republics. Afghanistan was recently added to their list.
I would like to note once again that we have reached an inexorable conclusion: many international terrorists have accumulated on the borders with Kazakhstan, as the latest developments show. This is the first thing.
Second, it is impossible to resolve this problem solely within the framework of Kazakhstan, a country with a huge territory, in order to overcome these negative trends in our former Soviet republics.
As we see it, and I am absolutely convinced of this, the closest peoples – those of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan should jointly try to resolve the difficult problems inherited by them and those created by us during the post-Soviet period. Please forgive me, but, first of all, Uzbekistan should learn the lessons that have been discussed here for quite a while. According to our information, they have already shifted their gaze towards Uzbekistan, unless these lessons are learned; and you can already see this there.
Most importantly, we need to learn specific lessons. The leaders of Kazakhstan are assessing these lessons today. They include the above-mentioned external lessons, and the relevant conclusions will be drawn in the near future. There are also domestic lessons to consider. While analysing the situation in Belarus, we assume that external causes, which were fairly obvious in Belarus, are not so obvious in Kazakhstan. Nevertheless, the President of Kazakhstan is trying to get to the gist of the matter. I am confident that he will succeed. But, proceeding from Belarusian developments, we are not forgetting about the domestic causes either. The same is true of other republics. We have to see this clearly. We could witness a relapse, unless we understand this and stop blaming only the external factor.
Let me remind you about the risks and threats related to the creation of so-called terrorist sleeper cells in Central Asia. These are extremists who will wake up one day, as Mr Rahmon has said. We have taken note of these warnings but have probably underestimated the risks. Let us be honest: sometimes we thought that we would be spared this scourge. Now we see that professional terrorist fighters make up the core of the protesters in Kazakhstan. This is a very dangerous trend. We need to find out who organised and directed them.
I am certain that the organisers and those who directed these events in Kazakhstan will not be easy to find. At the same time, I do believe that in Kazakhstan, just like in Belarus, the result will be the same.
As my colleagues have said, the decision to send the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces to Kazakhstan was timely and swift. I am certain that our efforts had a sobering effect on the destructive elements and made our allied ties, as well as the CSTO’s viability and capability, obvious for the entire world to see.
This is a lesson for us that we need to further improve the CSTO to make it better manageable along with the forces we are ready to use for this purpose. Serious challenges lie ahead. We need to strengthen the CSTO and to be calm and consistent in building up all capabilities, primarily the peacekeeping potential. It is also quite important to make sure that the CSTO retains its agility and ability to respond promptly. In this regard, we must not be shy in any way or look back at the West, the United States or anyone else. If we keep turning our head too far back, we risk breaking our neck. For this reason, we need to focus on our own agenda and our own security. When they face the slightest of challenges, they forget about democracy; they do not look back at us but act in a way that suits their interests best. We need to keep this in mind too. A crackdown at the very outset yields tangible results.
Judging by the way the Western politicians have been acting, they are keeping a close eye on these developments. There was a pause of two or three days, maybe it was a weekend or something, but this gave them time to get organised. After two or three days, as the President of Russia and I have been discussing time and again, there came an avalanche of statements that were to be expected: “democracy,” “freedom,” “unacceptable crackdown” and so forth.
It is obvious that the deployment of the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces upended the plans of the masterminds who provoked this conflict and those who staged it. Once again, this demonstrates that our decisions were correct.
In this regard, I would like to note that we must monitor the situation at all times, act proactively and stop the possible causes that lead to such consequences. The President of Kazakhstan did the right thing when, on the very first day, he held accountable those who let the first symptoms of these events happen. Just think about it: natural gas is in ample supply in Kazakhstan, and yet they doubled or even tripled the price.
In this regard, we should act proactively in the media. No one should be allowed to portray the peacekeeping contingent as invaders. We have already seen such attempts. We are not invaders, and we did not go there by ourselves. We were invited by our brother and our friend who is in charge of this vast country, and we provided the support he requested from us. This is a lesson for everyone; this is a precedent, a solid precedent.
Colleagues, today as never before, it is necessary to improve political interaction within the CSTO and to coordinate our positions in the international arena. The forms and methods of exerting hybrid influence on our countries are being improved in terms of quality. Acting within the CSTO, we must develop adequate response measures and do so assertively, as I mentioned earlier. It is important to improve information exchanges and to improve the quality of analysis. The mounting tensions are also pushing us to revise our joint measures to counter terrorism and extremism.
This is a good reason for us to get together at some point and discuss Tajikistan. For years, the President of Tajikistan has been asking us for material support, primarily with military equipment, and we need to do this so that it does not cost us more in the future as in the case of Kazakhstan. It took almost 200 flights to airlift all of the equipment; fortunately, Russia agreed to do it. I would not like to see this happen in Tajikistan. It is better to help it now, and it will cope with these challenges. This applies to other republics as well. We must learn our lessons.
We have focused a lot on fighting international terrorism, possibly underestimating in the process the danger posed by extremism in all its forms. It is necessary to expose the forces that, under certain circumstances, are capable of crossing the red line and embarking on a path of violence, as well as to harshly suppress their destructive activities in a timely manner.
With regard to Belarus, colleagues, you can always count on our understanding, individual statements and support; we will always be faithful to our agreements.
Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Lukashenko.
I now give the floor to President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
Please, President Putin, the floor is yours.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, colleagues.
At this session we are discussing a truly serious issue of concern to all of us – the situation in Kazakhstan and ways to normalise it. And I agree with Mr Lukashenko that it concerns all of us.
Regarding the developments in Kazakhstan, all of us know that President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has appealed to the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation for assistance, because his country, a fraternal country and a CSTO member state, came across an unprecedented challenge to its security, integrity and sovereignty.
We know that the current threat to Kazakhstan’s statehood is not rooted in the spontaneous protests over fuel prices but in the fact that destructive internal and external forces made use of this situation. The people who protested over the situation on the fuel market and their goals are different from the people who took up arms to attack the state and their goals.
Actively used were ‘Maidan’ technologies of armed and information support for the protests. There were organised and controlled groups of fighters, as President Tokayev has pointed out just now, including people who had apparently received training in terrorist camps abroad, and their attack on Kazakhstan, as President Tokayev has noted – and it was essentially an attack on the country, on Kazakhstan – amounts to an act of aggression. I fully agree with him in this regard.
All of that called for an emergency response, and the appeal by the President of Kazakhstan was immediately supported by all heads of the CSTO member states and the Prime Minister of Armenia as the current Chair of the Collective Security Council.
Crucially, our organisation and its secretariat have been able to take all the necessary decisions in a swift and well-coordinated manner. In fact, we had very little time and had to act in a matter of hours to prevent the foundations of state authority in Kazakhstan from being undermined, and the situation inside the country from deteriorating, as well as to stop terrorists, criminals, looters, and other criminal elements.
The President of Kazakhstan has already told me during our telephone conversations that he has been receiving calls all the time from people asking and even pleading for him to protect them from these criminals and terrorists.
We coordinated our joint steps to help the brotherly people of Kazakhstan in the swiftest possible manner, fully engaging the CSTO mechanism. The CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces have been sent to Kazakhstan. I would like to note that it will stay there for a limited period, as long as the President of Kazakhstan, the head of state, decides. Make no mistake, once it fulfils its mission, the entire force will leave the territory of Kazakhstan. We have succeeded in completing the deployment of this force within quite a short period of time.
We view our joint actions as extremely timely and absolutely legitimate. The CSTO forces arrived in Kazakhstan following a formal request from the republic’s leadership and strictly in keeping with Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty of 1992. Under this article, in the event of aggression against any of the member states, all other countries shall immediately provide the affected member state, at its request, the necessary assistance and support, including military assistance. We have been witnessing an international terrorist aggression. Where did these armed groups come from? It is obvious that they were trained in foreign camps and acquired combat experience in hotspots around the world.
Our organisation has demonstrated its potential and the ability to take swift, decisive and effective action. Each of our allies contributed to fulfilling this mission within the CSTO forces: they include units from all member states without exception that are already there and are proactively carrying out their mission.
This shows that the CSTO’s long-term work, I would like to stress that it is truly long-term and painstaking work to establish an integral security system for member states, including, of course, the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces – this work is producing results. Colleagues, it is very important that our countries’ service personnel train under common programmes, and that they are issued standard or compatible weapons, equipment and communications systems.
We streamlined the deployment of peacekeepers during joint regular exercises. This was done for example during the CSTO’s recent Indestructible Brotherhood exercise, organised with due account of Russian service personnel’s combat experience in Syria. The exercise highlighted the impressive combat training levels, professionalism and cohesion of our service personnel and their ability to quickly accomplish counter-terrorism tasks and to protect the civilian population. It was precisely these purposeful joint combat training activities of CSTO countries’ forces that made it possible to promptly deploy peacekeepers to Kazakhstan and to ensure their most effective performance.
The CSTO contingent included the best-trained units of the Russian Airborne Forces, and all of them boast real combat experience. Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov, Commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, oversees the operations of the Collective Forces in Kazakhstan, and he knows what he is doing.
The peacekeeping contingent immediately took over key infrastructure facilities, and is ensuring that the Kazakhstani authorities alone have control over them. In turn, Kazakhstani law enforcement and security agencies directly conduct counter-terrorism and combat operations, they protect civilians and exercise policing functions whenever necessary. In effect, our service personnel have replaced them at local infrastructure facilities, allowing the President of Kazakhstan to make effective use of national forces and resources in order to reestablish law and order in the country.
As the speakers have already noted, the situation is being gradually normalised as a result of the measures implemented by the leaders of Kazakhstan with our support. Kazakhstan’s service personnel and law enforcement agencies have completely expelled terrorists and bandits from a number of vital installations, including the Almaty International Airport. I am confident that our joint efforts will make it possible to fully reestablish control over the situation nationwide and to stabilise it, and that peace and tranquility will, at last, be reinstated in Kazakhstan.
Of course, we understand that the events in Kazakhstan are not the first and certainly not the last attempt to interfere in the domestic affairs of our states from outside. I agree with the President of Belarus on this. The measures taken by the CSTO clearly show that we will not allow anyone to stir up trouble at home and will not permit the realisation of another so-called colour revolution scenario.
Everybody knows that by means of the internet and social media, attempts are still being made to involve our citizens in protests that will then be followed by terrorist attacks, as was clearly and precisely described by the President of Kazakhstan when he recalled the timeline of the events. This timeline is clear; we have all witnessed these developments. Moreover, the latest developments in Kazakhstan confirm that certain forces are not above using the online space and social media to recruit extremists and terrorists and to create sleeper cells of militants.
Therefore, it appears reasonable to instruct the CSTO Committee of Security Council Secretaries to present proposals – as part of the activities of their working groups on information security, countering terrorism and extremism – on the collective prevention of such attempts at destructive external interference in the CSTO’s area of responsibility.
Most importantly, we must make sure that events similar to the tragedy happening in the brotherly country of Kazakhstan will not catch us by surprise again and that we are fully mobilised and ready to push back against any new provocation.
I would like to note the bravery with which the President of Kazakhstan faced these events and took charge of the counteraction, consolidated society, the security forces and citizens of his country in order to confront the external terrorists.
I am certain that the leaders of Kazakhstan will do their best to restore normal operation of the country’s law enforcement agencies and the economy. I do not doubt that for a moment.
Finally, I would like to confirm that Russia intends to further prioritise strengthening the strategic alliance with all the CSTO member states. I am confident, of course, that the leaders and people of Kazakhstan (I want to stress this once again) will be able to handle this situation and respond to these serious challenges with honour.
Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr President.
I would like to pass the floor to President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon.
President Rahmon, please.
President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon: Mr Pashinyan, colleagues,
First of all, I would like to express our condolences to the people and President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in the wake of the tragic events in this brotherly country. Please extend our sympathy and support to the families and loved ones of the victims.
I would like to thank the President of Kazakhstan for the detailed information about the latest developments in his country. We fully support the measures being taken by the leadership of Kazakhstan to normalise the situation and restore order in the republic.
In line with its CSTO obligations, Tajikistan also promptly responded to a request from the Kazakhstani leadership to assist with eliminating the current threat. Members of the peacekeeping battalion of the Tajikistani Defence Ministry currently serve in the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces.
I would like to share my view of the situation. The information Mr Tokayev provided clearly shows that decisions concerning pressing socioeconomic matters and stabilizing the situation in the country had been urgently taken. The tragedy in Kazakhstan once again confirms that it is necessary to intensify our joint comprehensive efforts to counter terrorism and extremism, religious radicalism and transnational organised crime, including drug trafficking.
We have been fighting the destructive activity of terrorists, extremists, Islamic radicals and other criminal groups for the past 30 years, and we know very well this kind of security threat. Since the early days of its independence, Tajikistan has been fighting these challenges. Our country went through a civil war that took the lives of more than 150,000 people.
I have repeatedly pointed out at our CSTO, CIS and SCO meetings that each of our countries are threatened by dormant seats of international terrorism, extremism and religious radicalism. They have never stopped recruiting and propaganda efforts among the citizens of the CSTO member states even for a day. An extremely destructive ideology of religious radicalism is being vigorously promoted in our countries; it is one of the main weapons in the hands of our enemies today.
All this dramatically enhances the religious extremist potential and creates the threat of destabilisation in our states.
In this regard, one needs to especially note the aggressive activity of the Salafi movement and Wahhabism. As we know, the followers of these doctrines make up the backbone of the Islamic State. In Tajikistan, we are doing our best to fight the propaganda and subversive work carried out by emissaries of these banned organisations; yet we record an increasing number of facts and phenomena that are related to online terrorist resources every year.
At the same time, the citizens of our countries, including migrant workers, continue to be susceptible to terrorist propaganda. As a reminder, tens of thousands of citizens from the post-Soviet states surfaced in Iraq and Syria in a very short time; some of them were killed. A logical question is – where are the others? How many have been detained or returned to their homeland?
Therefore, our countries need to establish more effective coordination of special services to respond to transnational organised crime, including cybercrime. Earlier, I proposed building an information protection system for the CIS. I believe this initiative is relevant and timely for the CSTO.
At the same time, we consider it important to continue searching for and stopping the channels our citizens use to reach regions with increased terrorist activity, as well as the channels whereby persons involved in terrorism and extremism penetrate or return to the CSTO zone of responsibility.
We need to focus on our citizens’ unregulated travel to foreign religious educational centres, which is a problem because such students often receive extremist training there. Over the past few years, Tajikistan has not only neutralised the channels whereby its citizens had reached such religious educational centres, but also brought more than 5,000 people back.
The invigorated activities of international terrorist groups in Afghanistan are directly affecting the CSTO collective security zone. We know that thousands of their members have been released from prisons in Afghanistan since late August. They were members of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Ansarullah,Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, to name a few. Since then, they have stepped up their activities and strengthened their combat and subversion potential. We are seriously concerned about the consolidation of positions by ISIS militants, especially in Khorasan Province.
In all, according to our secret services, there are over 40 terrorist training camps and centres on the CSTO’s southern borders and in the northeast provinces of Afghanistan with more than 6,000 militants.
The CSTO states should take very seriously the risk that watching the strengthening of terrorists in Afghanistan and having secured their support, some of our citizens might resort to extreme measures.
If participation by our citizens in the unrest in Kazakhstan is confirmed, I consider it important to develop closer coordination of law enforcement agencies in the CSTO member-countries with a view to preventing such cases and taking tough measures against them.
I believe terrorists have no homeland, religion or ethnic origin and must be destroyed wherever they are. We fully support you, Mr Tokayev. Our ministers, security and law enforcement agencies are always in contact. Their work is well coordinated.
At the same time, I would like to recall that we have not yet implemented the Collective Security Council resolution on compiling a common CSTO list of terrorist organisations. This is a very serious problem. In addition, we are concerned over the absence of a targeted interstate programme on strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border.
President Lukashenko mentioned that the situation at the Tajik-Afghan border is becoming more complicated every day. Taliban members are fighting each other along the border. In the past few weeks, approximately 11 of them were killed and more than 18 were wounded in just one section. Therefore, we must create a “security belt” around Afghanistan.
In conclusion, I would like to express once again our solidarity with and full support for the efforts of President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to establish law and order in the country. We are convinced that brotherly Kazakhstan is fully capable of achieving this and its wise people will manage to stabilise the situation as soon as possible.
Thank you for your attention.
Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Rahmon.
Now I am giving the floor to the Prime Minister and Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office of the Kyrgyz Republic, Akylbek Japarov.
Mr Japarov, please.
Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office of Kyrgyzstan Akylbek Japarov: Mr Pashinyan, participants in the extraordinary session,
First of all, I would like to thank Armenia for hosting today's meeting, the relevance and importance of which is beyond doubt.
Once again, we express our deep condolences to the Kazakhstani side in connection with the tragic loss of life as a result of the clashes and wish a speedy recovery to everyone who was injured. Kazakhstan is our closest ally and strategic partner, and our duty today is to stand with it in solidarity.
The ongoing global changes around the world, political cataclysms, the transformation of challenges and threats to security, and other factors directly affect the military-political situation in the CSTO collective security region. The tragic events that have unfolded in Kazakhstan prove that.
Using the ongoing domestic processes, destructive elements are combining their terrorist activities to undermine statehood, security and territorial integrity, and are creating an atmosphere of chaos, permissiveness and rampant crime.
In this vein, Kazakhstan’s initiative to put into operation the CSTO collective security system’s mechanisms in the circumstances at hand undoubtedly confirms the unity of the CSTO member states’ approaches to the existing challenges and threats to security.
The fundamental principles underlying the creation and functioning of this organisation, its foreign policy and military components, taking into account the accumulated potential, make it possible to respond in a timely manner to the crises in all their hybrid manifestations. However, the complete stabilisation of the situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan remains our main priority.
We have been following with concern the events in fraternal Kazakhstan from day one. We are opposed to terrorism in any form and manifestation, and sincerely want to see the situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan get back to normal and peace and order return to that country as soon as possible.
Today, more than ever, it is important to find a mutually acceptable solution and prevent further escalation of the situation. Immediately after President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s request for assistance in accordance with the obligations under the CSTO, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov decided to send a limited contingent of the Kyrgyz Republic’s armed forces to Kazakhstan with a mandate to participate in the CSTO peacekeeping operation.
On January 7, an extraordinary session of parliament was convened in Kyrgyzstan, where this decision was supported by the majority of the deputies. On the same day, January 7, a 150-strong peacekeeping military contingent of the armed forces of the Kyrgyz Republic, including experienced officers and contract servicemen, as well as eight armoured vehicles and 12 motor vehicles, flew to the Republic of Kazakhstan. I want to emphasise that we are prepared to continue to make every effort to normalise the situation in the neighbouring country.
Participants in this session,
Instability and growing violence are likely to worsen the socio-economic situation in Kazakhstan and negatively affect all of us.
In this situation, we consider it particularly important to provide conditions for the unimpeded movement of people and cargo to promote socio-economic development and maintain stability in the region. It is important to maintain sustainable economic development in the region and take the necessary measures to keep up favourable conditions for businesses and interbank ties.
According to incoming reports, criminals have acquired many firearms. There is the risk that the criminal elements who took part in the looting and atrocities could move across our state borders.
With this in mind, the current situation in Kazakhstan compels us to take joint efforts to restore stability there and prevent attacks on its military, administrative and social facilities. As a support measure, we have decided to allow citizens of all countries, including Kazakhstan, to cross the Kyrgyz-Kazakhstani border into Kyrgyzstan without presenting certificates of negative PCR tests.
During this time, Kyrgyzstan has also provided temporary accommodation for citizens of Kazakhstan returning from Turkey, the Arab Emirates and other states, who are arriving at Manas International Airport out of necessity. They are being transported to the Kyrgyz-Kazakhstani border in an organised way.
I am pleased to note that many Kyrgyz citizens do not remain indifferent to this situation and are rendering all kinds of voluntary assistance. All Kyrgyz people are deeply sympathetic with their Kazakh brothers and sincerely wish them an early settlement.
At the same time, I have to note that the mass media and social networks have been spreading information on the involvement of foreigners, including Kyrgyz citizens, in pogroms and disorder. In this context, I would like to request and hope for an open and fair investigation into each confirmed case, to be carried out under Kazakh law and in strict conformity with our bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that the Kyrgyz Republic has invariably supported stability, socio-economic progress, stronger statehood and prosperity in Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan has always been and will remain close to Kazakhstan. If necessary, and at Kazakhstan’s request, we are prepared to provide the necessary assistance to the people of Kazakhstan, proceeding from the strong relations between the two fraternal nations.
Please allow me to convey again my condolences to Kazakhstan over the human loss and to wish an early recovery to the wounded.
Thank you for your attention.
Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr Japarov.
Heads of delegations, Mr Secretary General,
Thank you for your substantive remarks and detailed information.
Unfortunately, we must state that there is no visible reduction in tension in the CSTO area of responsibility and we continue to face new types of threats.
The current situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan is a cause for concern in view of the information about the international terrorist entities involved in the events. In the recent past, we ourselves have faced the emergence of foreign terrorists in our region.
We hope that the CSTO-led efforts aimed at helping friendly Kazakhstan will contribute to resuming normal life there as soon as possible.
Colleagues, importantly, the key priorities of our chairmanship include strengthening the organisation's crisis response mechanisms. Based on this, we expect the CSTO member states to step up their cooperative efforts to further improve these mechanisms, which, undoubtedly, would serve both the further development of interaction between the member states and the strengthening of the organisation’s corresponding entities and mechanisms.
We have completed the exchange of views on today's agenda. Summing up the results of today's session, I would like to state with satisfaction the high level of mutual understanding between our countries regarding the situation in Kazakhstan. The purposefulness of our actions towards the earliest possible stabilisation of the situation in Kazakhstan and the return to normal life there is obvious. This is a critical moment for ensuring basic living conditions for its citizens, as well as ensuring the security of the strategic facilities.
I think our session can be considered over now. Thank you.
Please, Mr Putin.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Mr Pashinyan.
You know, I would like to close by making a couple of points.
First, there is a very high level of interaction and a willingness of our colleagues to work – in the full sense of the word – at any time of day or night. This is what we have seen in the course of the events that are still unfolding. This, of course, is the result of the high level of trust that has developed between us over our years of cooperation.
I think all our meetings, including informal ones, and the last meeting in St Petersburg in late 2021 also confirmed the fact that our contacts are beneficial for us and strengthen our interaction. Of course, I would like to thank everyone for this. This is my first point.
Second, we need to think about improving the decision-making procedures for the use of joint forces. Our recent decisions were made quickly, but I think they need to be uniform as it would improve the quality of our work, raise it up a notch and make our work even more efficient, even though, in general, we have nothing to complain about.
And the third issue, which does not concern all our colleagues. I would like to say just a few words on current issues over the telephone to Mr Rakhmon immediately after the meeting. If you do not have urgent matters at hand, I would like to call you right after the end of our session.
Nikol Pashinyan: Thank you, Mr President.
Goodbye. All the best.