Kyrgyzstan cancels military exercises with Russia and others

Kyrgyzstan unilaterally canceled joint military exercises between the six nations that make up the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on Sunday, less than a day after they began on its territory.

The Defense Ministry did not specify the reason for the cancellation of the “Indestructible Brotherhood-2022” exercises, which were scheduled to take place from Monday to Friday.

CSTO members Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would participate in the exercises. Observers from five other states, including Serbia, Syria and Uzbekistan, were also invited.

The Bishkek decision is the latest indication that tensions may be simmering within the alliance, formed in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Last month, Armenia skipped a two-week drill held by the collective in Kazakhstan, after criticizing the bloc for not openly siding with it after large-scale fighting broke out on its border with Azerbaijan, which is not part of of the CSTO—in September.

Russia and other CSTO countries rejected Yerevan’s request for military assistance, issued hours after hostilities began, limiting their response to fact-finding missions to the border.

Despite its apparent ambitions to be a counterpart to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the CSTO has sometimes struggled to define its exact purpose. The lack of involvement in numerous security crises among its members over the years has led analysts to question its viability.

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