Russia's post-Soviet security bloc will work to build up the capacity of other member states to produce substitutes for Ukrainian weaponry, the bloc's top official announced.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization will strengthen its commission on defense industry cooperation and focus its efforts on "import substitution." That term has become a buzzword over the last year in Russia as the country scrambles to replace products it can no longer buy as a result of Western sanctions. Here, though, the focus is Ukrainian weaponry, said CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha at a January 30 press conference in Moscow.
The commission will be led by Dmitry Rogozin of Russia, who is now the chief government defense industry official in Russia. The effort "will allow us to take into account and maximally use all the existing possibilities in CSTO countries for manufacturing military equipment which had previously been produced on the territory of Ukraine. The activities of this commission will be focused primarily on implementing this program of import substitution," he said.
"There are possibilities in Kazakhstan. And today, by the way, we are having substantive discussions regarding two factories' possibilities in this program of import substitution. There are also possibilities in Belarus, in Armenia there are very serious possibilities, in Kyrgyzstan, you know, there are several factories."
It's not clear exactly whose imports are being substituted. Ukraine says it has already cut off all of its defense business with Russia, but many of the other CSTO countries also have relied significantly on weaponry from Ukraine (which usually ranks in the top 10 arms exporters in the world).
Kazakhstan, in particular, cooperates closely with Ukraine in the defense-industrial sphere. The two sides have set up a joint venture to manufacture Ukrainian armored vehicles in Kazakhstan, and when President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Kiev in December, he discussed deepening that cooperation with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko. "I'm happy to state that we are fully renewing our military-technical cooperation, and the experience and potential of the Ukrainian military-industrial complex can be fully utilized for the strengthening of Kazakhstan's military capabilities," Poroshenko said at their meeting.
But in his statement, Bordyuzha just started talking about import substitution, leaving it unclear whether only Russia's imports from Ukraine would require substitution, or all CSTO members. It's somewhat indicative of the Russia-heavy nature of the CSTO that Bordyuzha didn't even feel the need to specify that -- clearly Russia's imports are the ones that matter.