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Post-Soviet military bloc chief rules out deployment of CSTO military forces in Syria

February 12, 2016, 11:41 UTC+3

CSTO military potential may be used only on the territory of member countries on approval of the heads of states

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©  ITAR-TASS/Yuri Smityuk

MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/. It is ruled out that Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) forces will start a ground operation in Syria, CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha told reporters on Friday.

"One cannot talk in full seriousness that the leaders of our countries will make a decision on starting a ground operation beyond their borders," Bordyuzha said answering a question on whether CSTO forces may be deployed in Syria.

He added that "CSTO military potential may be used only on the territory of member countries on approval of the heads of states."

In October 2015, a few days after Russian Aerospace Defense Forces started a military operation in Syria, Bordyuzha said that there "no need yet" to involve other CSTO member countries. Russia made the decision to start the operation "as a sovereign country, in its sovereign capacity," he noted.

According to the official, the Collective Security Treaty Organization is ready to consider Syria’s application for membership if the country submits one.

"To be honest, I don’t know anything about Syria’s efforts on joining CSTO," Bordyuzha noted. "Not all countries today are ready to give up elements of their sovereignty. If a country conscientiously approaches the issue of joining CSTO… it will be considered and a decision will be made," he added.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization, founded in 2002, incorporates six countries - Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

CSTO ready to help Central Asian countries if they ask for it

Bordyuzha said the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) would render assistance to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in ensuring their security if they asked for it.

"Talking about assistance, all CSTO member countries are interested in stability and peace in the Central Asian region. If neighbors ask for help in case of unfavorable developments, such requests will be considered and I think that positive decisions will be made," Bordyuzha said.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization incorporates six countries - Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Collective Security Treaty was signed in 1992 and entered into force in 1994.

Russia's military operation in Syria

Russia’s Aerospace Force started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015. The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia. On October 7, Moscow also involved the Russian Navy in the military operation. Four missile ships of the Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria.

Since 2014, the US-led coalition has also been delivering air strikes against militants in Syria and Iraq.

In mid-November, after an alleged terrorist attack on Russian passenger jet that fell in Egypt killing 224 people on board, Moscow increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria by several dozen and involved strategic bombers in the strikes as well. Targets of the Russian aircraft include terrorists’ gasoline tankers and oil refineries. Russia’s aircraft have made thousands of sorties since the start of the operation in Syria, with over a hundred of them performed by long-range aircraft.

On November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber involved in Moscow’s military operation against the Islamic State (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia).  Ankara claimed the warplane violated the Turkey’s airspace. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory without violating Turkey’s airspace. The Russian president referred to the attack as a “stab in Russia’s back” and promised that the move would cause response action from Russia. Moscow deployed new S-400 air defense systems in Syria in order to protect the warplanes involved in the military operation and started arming the fighters intended to provide air support to bombers and attack aircraft in Syria with air-to-air missiles.

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