An emergency meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) ended on June 14 without a clear decision on whether to endorse the deployment of Russian troops in an attempt to restore order to southern Kyrgyzstan.
Although no firm steps were taken on Kyrgyz stabilization measures, Russia’s national security chief, Nikolai Patrushev, said the CSTO Security Council session “worked out measures” that would be submitted to the presidents of the organization’s member states.
“We did not rule out the use of any means which are in the CSTO’s potential, and the use of which is possible regardless of the development of the situation in Kyrgyzstan,” the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti quoted Patrushev as saying on June 14.
Unofficial reports indicate that as many as a thousand people have died in inter-ethnic violence in Osh and Jalalabad provinces, which entered its fifth day on June 14. Tens of thousands of refugees have fled to Uzbekistan. [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive]. The official death toll stood at 117 on June 14.
The Kyrgyz provisional government appealed on June 11 to Russia to send a peace-making force to southern Kyrgyzstan. The next day, Russian declined to immediately act on the request, citing a need for consultations with CSTO allies. The CSTO comprises Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Armenia and Belarus. [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive].
Separately, the CSTO issued a statement that characterized the recent actions of the Kyrgyz interim government as “insufficient for the stabilization of the situation [in Kyrgyzstan],” RIA-Novosti reported.
Experts interviewed by EurasiaNet.org said the potential intervention of a Russian or CSTO military force might be essential for the timely restoration of order, but it would also carry potentially great risks for Kyrgyzstan.
Alexander Knyazev, a consultant at the Institute of Political Decisions in Kazakhstan, suggested that CSTO military intervention was necessary. “I think there is a need for a third military force not only in the south of Kyrgyzstan, but also in the north as well,” Knyazev said. “At the moment there is a lack of law enforcement personnel in the north, everything is concentrated in the South. Those who planned [events in the South] knew that would happen. If decision is not taken soon, the situation in the North might get difficult too.”
But Emir Kulov, the acting head of International and Comparative Politics Department at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, warned that third party military intervention could have “long term consequences” that might compromise Kyrgyzstan’s sovereignty.
“I don’t think we need a third military force in the South. If the interim government would react faster to provocateurs’ actions, they could solve the problem themselves without help,” he said.
“If third forces come, especially Russian forces, we will have long-term consequences,” Kulov continued. “They might stay too long.”
Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in Central Asian affairs.