Minsk will attempt to use its chairmanship of the CSTO to further its foreign policy goals.
At the last CSTO summit, for the first time, the parties could not unanimously agree on the final conference documents due to the position of Armenia. This “scandal” distracted many observers from the remaining resolutions. Belarus assumes the CSTO chairmanship for 2023, and Minsk plans to use its position to further its foreign policy goals:
- Using the status of leader of the CSTO to regain the position of “peacemaker” in Eastern Europe, with added geopolitical weight.
- Restoring dialogue with individual Western states under the auspices of the CSTO, using the pretext of joint action regarding cross-border threats.
- Organising a high-level international conference on Eurasian security as a reincarnation of the “Minsk process” by analogy with the cold war “Helsinki process”.
- Attempting to involve extra-regional powers as security guarantors within the CSTO-China/India strategic dialogue framework.
- Using Russian propaganda capabilities to promote a Minsk-directed vision of international processes agreed upon within the CSTO.
None of these initiatives conflicts with CSTO interests, but there is little likelihood of success.
External actors perceive the CSTO as a mechanism for ensuring Russian domination of the post-Soviet space. On the one hand, parties with an antagonistic relationship with the Kremlin will not engage with the CSTO on essential matters, while on the other, if such engagement is necessary, neither the Kremlin nor its counterparts need an intermediate structure in the form of the CSTO.
Furthermore, most CSTO members are already engaged in productive, bilateral dialogue with the West, China, and India regarding their national interests and have no incentive to involve the CSTO.