Abstract. This paper examines the nature and key features of allied relations between the great nuclear powers and other members of the international community. The author analyzes the specifics and problems of Russia’s interaction with its allies in the post-Soviet space and justifies the importance and urgency of promoting the consolidation of their sovereignty and foreign policy independence.
One of the most important factors determining Russia’s strategic position is that allied relations with third countries cannot be critical to ensuring its security and survival. This is equally applicable to the other two nuclear superpowers – the US and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
An insurmountable gap in military capabilities between these three states and other members of the world community determines in general the structure of the international order and the basic conditions for building their relations with other countries. The geopolitical factor, by which allies are regarded as a continuation of the territorial base for negotiations in peacetime and operations in wartime, has become a dominating factor in allied relations for these three powers.
Nuclear Powers and Their Allies: Systemic Features of Relations
The nature of relations between the great nuclear powers and other members of the world community is determined by their absolute superiority and represents, according to George Orwell, a permanent state of “cold war.”1
Such a war can proceed in many different ways but, even if very close and formalized cooperation becomes its practical expression, the participants in this cooperation – the great nuclear powers – could find it hard to decide how to incorporate the partner’s benefits and demands into the system of their national interests.
In case of allied interaction with third countries, the balance of forces becomes decisive – there are no states in the world with which an alliance would be of decisive importance for the survival of China, Russia, or the US. In this regard, the extent to which the leading nuclear powers can alter their strategy in keeping with allies’ interests becomes a relevant question – especially since, according to one rather convincing viewpoint of the Cold War period, the US and the USSR could not adjust their strategies to fit the interests of their allies in NATO or the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO).2
This challenge has practical significance for Russia in the context of cooperation with partners in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and requires that special care be taken when building relations with them. The common geopolitical space and the lack of clear-cut dividing lines between Russia and the CSTO members create a dichotomy where, on one hand, the allies’ territories are objectively important for Russian national security and, on the other, the factor of the insurmountable difference between the power potentials of the allied states has to be considered. Moreover, Russia’s lack of a critical need for direct military aid from its allies in the event of a conflict with an adversary of equal strength (for example, the US) creates conditions for external players to try to instill in them constant uncertainty about their future. The question of how to compensate for this uncertainty and to what extent, in principle, this task concerns Russian foreign and defense policy requires, at the very least, thorough study.
This circumstance, however, is not a purely Russian phenomenon. It equally concerns two other present-day military superpowers – the US and the PRC. The US has a unique geopolitical position enabling it to tackle practically all regional security problems through diplomacy rather than in the context of ensuring its own survival.3 But the “insular” position of the US nevertheless forces it to build a system of allied relations as a tool for projecting its presence far beyond its national territory. Historically, any alliances for Washington were just an issue of a territorial base; they did not determine the balance of power with a potential adversary.4
Allied relations can have only limited significance for the PRC because its trade routes in any case cannot be fully and reliably controlled. The only completely secure opportunity for China’s contacts with the outside world is ensured by Russia. Moreover, demographic resources allow it to pursue a closed policy, which is confirmed by the example of China’s behavior during the 2020-2021 coronavirus pandemic. Following the formation of the new Chinese state in the middle of the 20th century, Beijing deliberately shied away from creating formal alliances, not only because this conformed with its policy of simultaneous confrontation with the US and the USSR, but because it did not need allies to achieve its foreign policy goals.5,6
Russia also has a unique geopolitical position. It is simultaneously oriented toward four regional zones – Europe, the Near East, the Middle East, and the Far East, which offers it ample opportunities for choosing a course of action in the most significant areas of Eurasia. Moreover, Russia, unlike the US, is not an “island,” and unlike China, it does not have a population that allows it to develop in a relatively closed manner – especially since other features of Russia’s geopolitical position, in particular the absence of distinctive geographical barriers between its territory and neighboring states, remain an obstacle.
In view of the above, it should be noted that the strengthening of defense cooperation between Russia and China provides convincing evidence that the countries should fully consider each other’s interests when determining their own strategies and practical action. In this case, we are dealing, first, not with allied but with high level partnership relations, and, second, this relationship is developing between states comparable in strength.
It must be borne in mind that, with the exception of China, Russia is surrounded by countries that are far behind it in terms of combat capability. The disintegration of all European empires during the 20th century, as well as the Ottoman and Russian Empires, and the emergence of a significant number of small and medium-sized states generally resulted in the formation of an exclusively comfortable geopolitical environment for the three superpowers: Unlike in the previous historical period, they have practically never directly bordered each other due to the emergence of a number of buffer states. As a result, the actions of the great nuclear powers on their periphery have almost never directly affected territories they could not sacrifice control over.
Consequently, it can be assumed that the three military superpowers’ allied relations with other countries in the modern world are determined by the interaction of forceful and geopolitical factors. The first factor – the insurmountable gap between military capabilities – is the most important, and the second one – distinctive features of the geopolitical position – adjusts the impact of the former factor in specific conditions. In this regard, there is every reason to assert that as the great powers become more focused on addressing domestic problems and development challenges – which is inevitable amid the general crisis of the liberal market economy – the geopolitical significance of allies for them will need increasing justification in terms of general political factors and applied military reasoning. Since only a conflict inside this narrow group could truly threaten their survival, they will gradually become more selective about the commitments they make to other countries – commitments that could provoke such a conflict.
The Evolution of Allied Relations
The concept of allied relations per se is deeply rooted in the European political tradition and, on the contrary, is practically absent in Asian countries, in our traditional understanding. The origin of an alliance as a phenomenon is found in the practice of the interaction of city-states in Ancient Greece, for which reliance on allies was an integral component of defensive wars and wars of conquest.7 Alliances were a decisive factor in the victory of the ancient polis during the Greek Persian wars. The destruction of traditional alliances and their replacement with the Athenian and Spartan “empires” is considered the cause of the Peloponnesian War and the prelude of their collapse under the pressure of the Macedonian state after 338 B.C.
The international situation in Europe formed through the interaction of nationally equal sovereign states in the 17th century led to the emergence of an order based on the military cooperation of several powers relatively comparable in terms of strength. The possibility of allied relations between them during the period of all European wars in the 18th and 19th centuries was the foundation of international policy of the balance of power in its classical manifestations.
In every military conflict of that era, the European powers formed ad hoc coalitions. Their most important feature was the impossibility of victory without interaction with allies comparable in terms of their strength. Concerted actions of the European “pentarchy” (Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, and France) in the 18th and 19th centuries can be considered a classic example in this regard. The concept of allied relations in the classic sense appeared and was formed at a time when an alliance with other powers was a decisive factor of survival and achieving national foreign policy goals.8,9
It should be noted that Russia, even during that historical period, differed from other great powers of continental Europe. The expansion of the Russian state in the 16th and 17th centuries to the Volga region, and then to the Urals and Siberia as far as the Pacific, created unique geopolitical advantages that no European country relatively similar to it in terms of power had. However, even for Russia, up until the middle of the 20th century, achieving victory in a conflict with states with comparable combined capabilities required participation in alliances. During the Great Patriotic War, the aid of the Allies (the US and Great Britain) played an important albeit not a decisive role in the survival of the USSR and the victory over the most dangerous enemy in history.10
Allied relations in Asia, on the contrary, did not develop either at the conceptual or practical level. The underlying reason is geopolitical – physical distances between major Asian states were always so significant that they seriously limited opportunities for effective interaction with allies in the event of external aggression.11 China, the most powerful Asian state, had no need for allies on account of the size of this country-civilization and its enormous demographic potential. The present-day PRC has maintained those qualities, so it does not need to seriously consider the relevance of joining real coalitions or alliances. In general, the experience of creating relatively stable alliances even in wartime is unknown in the history of international relations in Asia.
The current understanding of allied relations is closely linked with the practice of the institutionalization of interstate interaction in international policy that became widespread after World War II and, at the same time, the achievement by a narrow group of states of absolute military superiority over all other states. The crown here belongs to the US, which managed to create in the mid-20th century one of the most stable military alliances in history – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO, like the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), formed under the leadership of the Soviet Union, was and remains an alliance based on relations that differ from traditional allied relations.
In both cases, the leading power already possessed nuclear weapons and was a guarantor of the survival of its allies, acquiring in return only the possibility of using their territories in the event of a military conflict. In essence, allies of the US or the USSR were included into their geopolitical space, from which the leading countries could operate in wartime or hold negotiations in peacetime. This became possible precisely because the balance of forces inside NATO and the WTO made subordination the only possible form of relations.
Moreover, direct aid from allies was not critically important to the US or the Soviet Union. Their military capabilities were regarded as secondary compared to the forces of their leaders, and their territories assumed key importance as an expanded space from which the superpowers planned to operate in wartime. The strategy of each superpower no longer had to fully meet the interests of partners in order to maintain allied relations with them, and the superpowers were continuously losing the sense of need to maintain alliances.12 Neither the USSR nor the US felt the need to change or adapt their strategy at the late stage of the Cold War to meet the interests of their allies, including the basic ones.
Specific Features of Allied Relations after the Cold War
In the second half of the 20th century, the original meaning of the phenomenon of allied relations was lost. Allies of each nuclear power could no longer count even on a relative equality of forces and, respectively, rights within coalitions. Moreover, the external threat was so great that their survival fully depended on their membership in the alliance headed by the superpower. Therefore, for the great nuclear powers, present-day allied relations were formed back during the Cold War and now face two challenges: first, alliances do not play a decisive role in ensuring the national security of the strongest powers; and second, alliances cannot be regarded as such in the traditional sense of this notion (i.e., equal) due to the disparity in military capabilities.
These circumstances, even during the Cold War period, led to the ever-increasing flexibility of the USSR and the US when it came to considering the interests of their allies in the context of their strategy. The indifference of the Soviet leadership to the disintegration of the WTO can be considered, in our view, an example of such flexibility. Betrayal of the allies did not in any way change the status of the USSR as a global superpower precisely because the allies had no strategic significance.
The interests of official NATO allies have never been significant enough for the US to include them in its strategic planning. The ending of the Cold War in favor of the US was not the result of the betrayal of the USSR’s allies, as would have been the case in the prenuclear era, but a consequence of the collapse of its political establishment and economic development model for strictly domestic reasons.
Consequently, the absolute military superiority of the nuclear superpowers over other states led to the fact that for them, the balance of forces was the result not of their allied relations but of their own domestic efforts to achieve national development goals. The more successful those efforts, the less relative interest they had in allied relations.
Under conditions when a direct military clash of the great nuclear superpowers is becoming the last measure they are willing to resort to in a confrontation, the balance of forces between them depends more than anything on the sustainability of their internal development and least of all on whether they have allies. Even if Russia, the US, and the PRC lost all their allies – i.e., the countries connected with them by formal relations providing for mutual security guarantees – their strategic situation would not change in any way. At the same time, domestic problems could lead to a major weakening of their international positions, as happened with the USSR and could now happen with the US.
The US is most vulnerable in this sense. The flow of a significant part of the resources it needs for achieving its national development goals depends on Washington’s ability to control other states in some way. One of the instruments, although secondary, of this control are formal multilateral or bilateral alliances. China on the whole does not have official allies and due to the aforementioned objective reasons does not intend to acquire them. Russia is a member of the CSTO and the EAEU. However, those associations are tools for Russia’s interaction with its allies and only secondarily for its interaction with the outside world.
The end of the Cold War did not yield any essential changes in this issue. NATO’s eastward expansion from 1999 to 2004 (see Fig. 1) could not influence the nature of relations within the alliance because it took place through the accession to NATO of countries with even less military significance than the US’s allies in Western Europe. Moreover, it did not change the balance of forces between Russia and the US, although it did expand the territorial basis for operations of the latter in wartime. It is this factor that remains the main matter of concern for Russia, especially now when the US is raising the issue of potential NATO membership for Ukraine, which is located close to the Russian administrative center in Moscow.
However, at the same time, after the Cold War, the power gap between the US and its European allies, both old and new, widened even further. The reduced military capabilities of West European countries and their inability to make up for them lead to the complete devaluation of these states in terms of US national security and even the slightest desire on the part of Washington to consider allies’ interests in its own strategic planning.
Western Europe is well aware of that, as demonstrated not only in purely symbolic statements on the need to increase its military capabilities but also in attempts to elaborate its own model for survival without US support, first of all, as a result of NATO marginalization in Europe and the aspiration to build an independent dialogue with Russia and China.
Fig. 1. NATO eastward expansion
It would be an oversimplification to believe that the confrontational rhetoric of European politicians with respect to Russia and China is a consequence of their desire to raise their importance in the eyes of the US. No doubt, a significant part of the elite in West European countries is in effect performing the mission of US agents of influence and see their survival in the political system based on close partnership with Washington. However, we would hazard a guess that raising their importance in the eyes of Moscow and Beijing is, in our view, the most important impetus for Europeans, with the exception of the majority of East European countries, which do not have genuine sovereignty.
West European countries are well aware that for objective reasons no action can make them valuable enough for Washington to include their interests into its strategic considerations. That is why the main efforts of Europe are aimed at establishing a direct dialogue with Moscow and Beijing, while Russia and China currently have no other grounds for this dialogue. There is no need to dramatize the fact that those efforts are currently expressed in anti-Russian or anti-Chinese rhetoric because they are not followed up by hostile actions.
Russia and Its Allies
Russia, for its part, began to build official allied relations with most countries of the former USSR practically immediately after its disintegration as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which was signed in May 1992 and entered into force in 1994. The CSTO was formed to protect the territorial and economic space of Treaty members through the joint efforts of the armed forces and military formations of other agencies from any external military or political aggressors, international terrorists, as well as major natural disasters.
In 2009, the CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Force (CRRF) was formed. It has been consistently developing as an effective tool of collective response to emerging and potential challenges regarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of organization members. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that within the framework of these relations, the commitments of the parties have the same legal nature but different practical significance. Military alliance with Russia is critically important to every CSTO country in the event of outside military aggression.
The last 18 months have been marked by a string of major events affecting Russia’s allies in the CSTO and the EAEU one way or another and raising questions about the nature and content of relations with them. For instance, in summer and early autumn 2020, Belarus experienced rather large-scale acts of public outrage supported from abroad by Russia’s adversaries. Even though in the months preceding those events the Belarusian government more than once created grounds for skepticism regarding its loyalty to Russian interests, in August 2020, Russia took a principled position, expressed in the Russian president’s statement on willingness to support Belarus’s security sector in the event of a real threat of internal destabilization in the republic.13
In September-November 2020, armed conflict flared up between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Russian president assessed it as a conflict between two equal partners of Russia.14 Combat actions resulted in the de facto defeat of the Armenian side and the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping force to Nagorno-Karabakh (see Fig. 2).
Fig. 2. Nagorno-Karabakh residents warmly welcome Russian peacekeepers
During the “second Karabakh war” Armenian officials at various levels kept asking if there was a factor of commitments within the CSTO on the part of Russia. However, Moscow time and again emphasized that Russia’s guarantees apply to the sovereign territory of Armenia and the probability of an attack by a third state. Consequently, Russia’s position was more complicated than in the case of Belarus, where NATO members were an external party to the conflict.
In spring 2021, a brief armed conflict took place on the border of two CSTO countries – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – that was in a sense a consequence of the violent change of power in Bishkek in October 2020. Russia provided mediation in this conflict, but the fact that it occurred made it possible for outside observers to question the degree of unity within the CSTO.
In summer 2021, the possibility of a new aggravation of the security situation of Russian allies in Central Asia became clearer. After the hasty and disorganized withdrawal of US and allied troops from Afghanistan, power in that country was immediately seized by the Taliban. This factor not only posed new questions for the CSTO, but stirred discord within its ranks. This refers primarily to the position of official Dushanbe, which currently opposes dialogue with the new authorities of Afghanistan. At the same time, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan expressed the need to combine dialogue with the Taliban with the intensification of efforts to prepare for a possible aggravation of the situation in that country and the penetration of armed extremists into the territory of CSTO states.
Uzbekistan, bound with Russia by the 2005 Allied Relations Treaty, takes a similar approach. In this respect, already in August 2021, joint exercises of Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan took place in a bilateral and trilateral format. Major exercises of the CSTO CRRF were subsequently conducted in September in Kyrgyzstan (see Fig. 3)15 and in October 2021 in Tajikistan (see Fig. 4).16 Their goal was to improve CSTO capacity “to identify growing threats beforehand and thwart the intentions of banned armed groups.”17
Fig. 3. Rubezh-2021 exercise of the CSTO CRRF in Kyrgyzstan (September 7-9, 2021)
Evidently, Russia’s policy in this case is based on a combination of meeting its allied commitments and forming an independent line in the changing regional context. The most important result of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan was a drastic reduction of the ability of the US – Russia’s main potential adversary – to directly influence the situation in the Middle East and Central Asia. That is why it would be strange for Russia to take an inflexible position on Kabul also receiving indirect support from the PRC, Russia’s main global partner.
In all the aforementioned events, Russia’s policy complies with the letter and spirit of its relations with the countries involved in the conflicts. Meanwhile, issues of the global balance of power (i.e., relations with the other nuclear superpowers – China and the US) are also of paramount importance to Moscow. Consequently, when situations arise that do not directly affect the interests of these Russian partners, an unambiguous response from Russia is not always required. Actually, Russia’s clear stance is seen only in the case of outside pressure on Belarus, and the reason is that East European countries (Poland and Lithuania) are not independent international policy players but act as proxy states – staging areas for US activity on Russia’s western borders.
Fig. 4. Vzaimodeystviye-2021 exercise of the CSTO CRRF in Tajikistan (October 18-23, 2021)
In the case of armed conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan or Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Russian policy encountered a number of constraints. Therefore, Moscow’s position in those situations was dictated, first of all, not by strategic but rather moral and ethical considerations mentioned by the Russian president when responding to questions during a meeting with Plenary Session participants of the Valdai Discussion Club in October 2020.* However, Russia’s peacekeeping efforts in Nagorno-Karabakh did lead to a significant strengthening of its strategic positions in the South Caucasus.
* “…Armenia and Azerbaijan are both equal partners for us. And it is a great tragedy for us when people die there. We would like to develop full-scale relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.”18
Russian President Vladimir Putin
First and foremost, this policy of Russia stems from the consideration that states with military capabilities vastly superior to the potential of other members of the international community should take an especially measured approach to issues related to a change in the balance of power between third countries but not directly affecting their own security. Russia in this sense does not differ from the US or China, and that is why the moral factor in allied obligations comes to the fore. In Moscow’s view, the strengthening or weakening of any country in the post-Soviet space as a result of a conflict should be taken into account in the geopolitical context of its relations with the US and the PRC, but cannot be critically important to maintaining the global balance of power.
That approach is all the more relevant as in modern conditions some third states – in particular, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iran – are becoming participants of the regional balance of power. It is through their active involvement in the affairs of Russia’s allies or neighbors that these powers are being gradually engaged in the system of relations where Moscow by virtue of its overwhelming military capabilities in any case holds a dominant position. Their interaction with Russian allies cannot pose a threat to basic Russian interests, although it can create conditions compelling Russia to respond in accordance with its allied obligations or on the basis of geopolitical calculations.
In addition, the importance of third medium-sized countries (Turkey, Iran) in terms of ensuring Russia’s security cannot be considered in isolation of the fact that their own military capabilities cannot be equivalent to Russia’s. Moreover, politically, these countries are either no longer proponents of foreign interests (Iran or Afghanistan) or there is a trend toward reducing this activity. For instance, Turkey’s strengthening as a result of the military defeat of Armenia in autumn 2020 should be assessed, in our view, primarily in the context of its continued NATO membership and only secondarily based on its own military capabilities and political ambitions.
The inescapable conclusion based on the aforementioned facts is very significant both for Russia’s allies and for the possible adjustment of its own foreign policy. The need to prove that Moscow has objective reasons to be concerned about the situation of its allies and neighbors could, in our opinion, provoke them to seek to draw attention to themselves by fostering suspicion about the possibility of becoming a territorial basis for the strategic planning of the US or China. Of course, that is a very risky strategy in interaction with such a powerful state as Russia. More careful consideration of Russian interests on the part of Russia’s allies could be an alternative to those intentions, and then there is still a chance that Moscow’s activities would be dictated by much more important considerations than purely moral ones.
The objective need to constantly affirm its desire to fully consider allies’ interests is also a problem for Russia itself, especially in the current international context. These days, powers that are relatively significant in international politics are now completely losing interest in assuming excessive obligations. The leading European countries remain the last exception, but their limited opportunities dictate a need to get rid of responsibility in deed if not in word.
This process is objective, and there is no reason to believe that it can be reversible. Its most important reason was revealed above and lies in the fact that none of the leading nations, especially the nuclear superpowers, consider external threats existential. The potential threat of Russia, the US, and China to each other is mutual and does not presuppose victory or defeat of one party in the event of a military conflict between them. Moreover, under the conditions of the general crisis of the liberal market economy model, all superpowers have to direct their main efforts at addressing domestic problems, and inevitably few resources and capabilities remain for allies. Over the past several years, there has been quite a lot of talk, with good reason, that small and medium-sized countries may be pursuing a more multivector policy. But we must not forget that the foreign policy flexibility of the great powers is increasing to the same extent – they are less and less in need of allies, less and less willing to invest in forming an international order at the global or regional level, and not always willing to take risks where their vital interests are not affected. Moreover, they have a much more substantial material basis for such behavior than everyone else.
Russia in any foreseeable future will remain the dominant power in Eurasia in terms of strength, and this factor, considering the strategic partnership with China, enables it to consider its military cooperation and allied relations with its neighbors with regard to their political development and stability as a state. At the same time, the fact that in terms of its military capability Russia does not critically depend on any of its allies and is several times stronger than them allows it always to take the position of a mediator as the most authoritative outside power.
If we talk about practical conclusions that may follow from the analysis presented in this article, it makes sense, in our view, to pay attention first of all to the urgent need to improve the quality of interaction within the CSTO, including the development of its collective forces, to protect the sovereignty and state independence of Russia’s allies from external and, under certain conditions, internal threats.
Maintaining the sovereignty of the CSTO, EAEU, and CIS allies and their ability to make foreign policy decisions independently on the basis of geopolitical factors is the top priority for Russia. The reasons for the dramatic turn of events in Georgia and Ukraine were the full or partial loss of foreign policy independence by these countries in favor of powers who are potential adversaries of Russia. That is why the stability of the existing legitimate bodies of state power in allied countries is no less important to Russia than their protection from threats from other states.
Consequently, one of the most important aims of practical cooperation with them should be suppressing challenges and threats to internal stability as well as religious and political extremism – in other words, everything that could turn them into a territorial base for Russia’s adversaries or a potential source of instability that could threaten Russia. The armed forces of allied countries are a very important but not the only tool for protecting their sovereignty; however, in a number of cases they could in fact play a decisive role in ensuring stable state power.
Russia in any foreseeable future will remain the dominant power in Eurasia in terms of strength, and this factor, considering the strategic partnership with China, enables it to consider its military cooperation and allied relations with its neighbors with regard to their political development and stability as a state At the same time, the fact that in terms of its military capability Russia does not critically depend on any of its allies and is several times stronger than them allows it always to take the position of a mediator as the most authoritative outside power.
At the same time, Russia should continue the policy of balanced relations with its allies if various conflicts between them arise. Already during the events at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border in April 2021 and earlier, during the “second Karabakh war,” Russia demonstrated its high peacekeeping potential and ability to bring the leadership of the opposing countries to the negotiating table. Moreover, Russia’s allies should come to understand that in the event of confrontation between them, Moscow cannot unequivocally support any one of the parties.
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11. R.R. Kaplan, The Revenge of Geography, Random House, New York, 2012.
12. T.M. Nichols, No Use: Nuclear Weapons and US National Security. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.
13. Putin zayavil o sozdaniyi rezerva silovikov na sluchay pomoshchi Belorussiyi [Putin Declared Forming a Security Forces Reserve in Case of Aid to Belorussia]. RIA Novosti, August 27, 2020. URL: https://ria.ru/20200827/rezerv-1576391615.html (Retrieved on November 2, 2020.)
14. Zasedaniye diskussionnogo kluba “Valdai” [Valdai Discussion Club Plenary Session]. October 22, 2020. URL: http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/64261 (Retrieved on November 3, 2021.)
15. Fotogalereya na sayte ODKB [Photo gallery on the CSTO Website]. URL: https://odkb-csto.org/photogallery/564 (Retrieved on November 3, 2021.)
16. Ibid. URL: https://odkb-csto.org/photogallery/569 (Retrieved on November 3, 2021.)
17. ODKB pod rukovodstvom Rossiyi provodit noviye kontrterroristicheskiye ucheniya natadzhiksko-afganskoy granitse [The CSLO Carries Out New Counterterrorism Exercises on the Lajik-Afghan Border under the Leadership of Russia]. Radio Azattyq, October 23, 2021. URL: https://rus.azattyq.org/a/31526047.html (Retrieved on November 3, 2021.)
18. Zasedaniye diskussionnogo kluba “Valdai” [Valdai Discussion Club Plenary Session]. October 22, 2020.