Coronavirus has affected CSTO operations
By Andrei Parotnikau
Coronavirus hurts security cooperation among CSTO states, and delayed effects are likely to become visible next year.
On November 17, 2020, the Committee of Secretaries of the CSTO Security Councils met online to discuss the covid-19 pandemic, its impact on the viability of state institutions, medical supplies and information exchange, and cooperation on biosecurity.
On November 19, 2020, the CSTO Military Committee met online to discuss military cooperation within the CSTO. The CSTO Chief of the Joint Staff, Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov, said that anti-covid-19 measures were the primary obstacle for the implementation of the planned joint measures, however, emphasized the significance of retention measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in training grounds. Currently, the CSTO states are working on a contingency plan for joint exercises in the case coronavirus continues to spread in 2021. The current epidemiological situation at the defence departments of the CSTO member states, including during combat training is subject to daily monitoring.
Regular activities within the CIS / CSTO were held online:
- On November 18, 2020, a conference of the secretaries of the security councils of the CIS member states
- On November 20, 2020, a meeting of the CSTO Coordination Council of the heads of the anti-drug trafficking authorities.
At least half of the planned CSTO military training events in 2020 were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
CSTO generals are not overly optimistic about their governments’ ability to control the epidemiological situation in their respective countries. Military leaders anticipate new outbreaks and relevant response measures to be introduced, such as, for example, restrictions on the free movement of people within the CSTO. For Minsk, this additionally means that hundreds of thousands of Belarusian migrant workers will remain in Belarus next year due to the closure of the border with Russia.