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CSTO leaders unite against military solution to Syrian problem

September 24, 2013, 12:13 UTC+3

Other issues on the meeting agenda included troops withdrawal from Afghanistan

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At a meeting of the Collective Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in Sochi on Monday, the Russian president raised the issue of the “spilling over” of terrorism. “The CSTO cannot turn a blind eye to such a serious problem as affairs in Syria,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said, noting that “armed groups operating on the territory of that state had not emerged from nowhere and would not evaporate. The problem of terrorism spilling from one country into some other is quite real and may directly affect interests of any of our countries,” he added.

The presidents of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan’s prime minister gathered for the talks, the RF government’s Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper reports. The heads of state and government discussed the protection of the Tajik-Afghan border and military cooperation up to 2020, as well as prepared a statement on Syria on Moscow’s initiative.

“We are concerned over the situation in Syria, not only in the light of its negative consequences for the entire region, but also its negative consequences for the entire international law system,” the publication quotes Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The foreign minister reiterated the need to quickly start a political dialogue in Syria and resolve the chemical weapons issue.

The CSTO heads of state and government opposed the military intervention to solve the Syrian problem. “The CSTO member states are unanimous in that the Syrian situation can be settled only by peaceful political methods and that any external use of force would be a gross violation of international law or, using the terms of the UN Charter, simply aggression,” Vladimir Putin expressed the common position at a news conference.

Two priority issues for the CSTO member countries, according to representatives of the Russian delegation - is “to strengthen cooperation within the Collective Security Treaty Organisation in order to address challenges and threats emanating from Afghanistan, including in anticipation of the withdrawal from the country of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2014” and provision of collective assistance to Tajikistan in strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border.

Representatives of Moscow pointed to the need for action in connection with the completion of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. There are two main problems: the growing influence of extremists in the region and the growth of drug trafficking. Russia has long offered to fight drug trafficking directly, and not only in the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), but also by destroying it in Afghanistan. It is proposed to the CSTO services and collective defence forces to start joint physical destruction of warehouses, laboratories, factories and poppy plantations in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of international forces from the country.

In the run-up to the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan intend to develop military and military-technical cooperation, head of the RF Defence Ministry’s Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation Sergei Koshelev told reporters. “In order to enhance the combat potential of the Kyrgyz Armed Forces we have planned the deliveries of weapons and military special equipment to Kyrgyzstan, which will start at the end of 2013,” said the Defence Ministry’s official, quoted by the web portal. In addition, Russia has been actively involved in the training of personnel of the Kyrgyz army.

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