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CSTO militaries to participate in Kazakhstan exercises


CSTO militaries to participate in Kazakhstan exercises

As threats of a Russian nuclear attack on Ukraine ramp up, CSTO exercises take place in Kazakhstan.
Photo: Collective Security Treaty Organization

Member-state militaries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) are expected to begin the “active phase” of an 18-day military exercise in Kazakhstan.

According to CSTO—a multilateral Eurasian military alliance including Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan—6,500 soldiers and 850 mobile units will participate in five days of drills on mountain and dessert terrains. The exercises come after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that Russia would formally annex four occupied regions of Ukraine. On September 21, the Kremlin declared that it would mobilize 300,000 reservist troops.

The CSTO exercises are intended to signal Russia’s resolve in holding onto its gains in eastern Ukraine and potentially broadening its front. Exercises by both Russia and its allies in Central Asia are not unusual. Moreover, the extent to which they will signal resolve will be reduced as Ukraine’s armed forces continue to recover territory on the borders of the mostly Russian occupied regions of Luhansk, Donestk and Kherson. For example, on Saturday, Ukrainian forces retook Lyman, a front-line hub in Donetsk. 

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Expect continued Ukrainian military gains to erode Russian projections of military superiority in eastern Ukraine. Further expect Moscow to heighten its rhetoric on Russian military strength in substitution, alluding to use of nuclear weapons to instill fear. 

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