The relative note sent to the organization’s secretariat says that Tashkent is not satisfied with CSTO’s strategic plans with regards to the Afghanistan issue and the intensifying military cooperation between its member-states. Russian diplomatic circles perceive these arguments as unconvincing.
The CSTO alliance was signed on May 15, 1992, and became an observer organization at the UN General Assembly on December 2, 2004. Its members include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Under the charter, any member has the right to leave the organization at any time.
For the majority of experts Uzbekistan’s decision to quit the CSTO did not come as a surprise. Over the past year and a half Uzbekistan has reduced its CSTO participation to a minimum. The country did not participate in any events or military exercises; refused to sign an agreement on the creation of a collective rapid reaction force; and hindered a number of other initiatives. It should also be noted that Uzbekistan had quit and reentered the alliance before, for different reasons. This time, the prospect of becoming a close ally of the US has turned out to be more appealing than CSTO membership. Besides, the new cooperation would be well paid for, Russian expert Andrei Grozin believes:
"The western alliance should considerably reduce its military presence in Afghanistan by 2014. And here the problem of return transit will emerge. Western coalitions, the US, and the EU will have to spend enormous sums of money on the transport of troops, technology and equipment from Afghanistan. Central Asian countries that have the potential of becoming transit states are already fighting for that money. Uzbekistan is a key element in the transit chain due to its geographic location. Theoretically, it is possible to bypass it using the routes in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, but it is technologically difficult and highly expensive."
On top of that, Navoi already has an aviation logistics hub that surpasses all technological capabilities of Uzbekistan’s neighbors. Thus Uzbekistan is the main candidate for becoming the key transit state in the western forces’ pull-out from Afghanistan, Russian expert Daniil Kislov says:
"It is obvious that Uzbekistan’s decision to quit the CSTO was motivated by the desire for closer cooperation with NATO and the US. Time will show what form this cooperation will take and whether American or additional NATO military bases will appear on the territory of Uzbekistan."
At its last summit, the CSTO decided to allow construction of foreign military bases in the territory of its member states only with official consent of all its members. Clearly, the decision was standing in the way of Uzbekistan’s plans to extract financial, political and military benefits from the Afghanistan troop pull-out.
Meanwhile, even without Uzbekistan, the CSTO will continue to fortify its military component, Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces said, commenting on Tashkent’s decision to quit the CSTO.