In an official note (June 28) to the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), Uzbekistan declared suspension of its membership in the CSTO. The decision to withdraw from the Russian-led security agreement reportedly related to Uzbekistan’s intentions to improve its bilateral ties with the United States. Among other reasons, Uzbekistan authorities claim that they are not satisfied with the CSTO’s strategic vision vis-à-vis Afghanistan and with strengthening military cooperation between CSTO member states.

It should be noted that Uzbekistan has suspended its participation in the CSTO for the second time; the first withdrawal in 1999 made a way for the US to set up its military air base in the South East Uzbekistan. In 2005 after Uzbek President’s order to close the military base, Uzbekistan returned to the CSTO. The present move can be seen as in that Uzbekistan is interested in having the US military presence back in its territory. 

While the CSTO is yet to come with an official response, some experts believe that the withdrawal will help the country to revive its bilateral relations with the United States, particularly with the latter’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. The pretext for the Uzbekistan’s decision to quite CSTO was set by the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visit to Uzbekistan in October 2011, when both sides discussed the state of human rights in Uzbekistan and situation in Afghanistan. The following visit to Uzbekistan of the Third Army Commander, Lt. General Vincent Brooks in November 2011 was to discuss the military equipment transfer that the US forces currently use in Afghanistan. The cooperation, according to Brooks, “could benefit both countries, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, with the excess of US equipment from the war.” 

The CSTO was established in 1992 to ensure territorial and economic security of its member states, which now include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Besides Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia also withdrew from the alliance.