MOSCOW (RIA Novosti)—Peacekeeping forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) are prepared for any operations outside its territories, including in Ukraine, but a decision for a peacekeeping mission would depend on the organization’s members, CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha said Friday.
“The peacekeeping forces of the CSTO were formed several years ago and have undergone military preparation. The military personnel in its ranks are well-prepared in individual relations and equipped with all the needed military and technical means. They are ready to participate in peacekeeping operations of any caliber, as was confirmed by the results of recent joint drills in the Republic of Kyrgyszstan,” Bordyuzha said.
“Deployment of the CSTO peacekeeping forces is within the jurisdiction of the Council for Collective Security of the Treaty, the supreme body of the CSTO consisting of the members’ heads of state. With their joint decision and in accordance with existing agreements, the peacekeeping forces can be deployed within and without the territory of member states,” the CSTO secretary general noted.
The CSTO – a Russian-led international military alliance often seen as the antagonist to NATO — consists of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
Months of intense fighting have been taking place in Ukraine’s eastern regions between the pro-European Union government in Kiev and Russia-backed separatists who have declared independence in cities including Donetsk and Luhansk.
International observers are worried that fighting between the two sides has been steadily escalating, with many casualties reported. The conflict began when Ukraine’s government was overthrown by an angry populace after it turned around on a decision to sign an Association Agreement with the EU in favor of closer relations with Russia. In the ensuing months, Russian forces annexed Crimea, a region with a largely Russian population who declared independence and demanded to be joined with Russia.