Russia risks scaring away remaining formal allies
By transforming CSTO international exercises into a propaganda anti-NATO demonstration without informing other Member States, Russia risks to deepen the existing mistrust between the Member States. In addition, formal allies may strengthen their doubts of Russia’s bona fides and negotiability.
The exercises of the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces of the Organization of Collective Security Treaty, ‘Vzaimodeysvtie-2016’ have sparked a controversy. During the exercises, the loudspeakers broadcasted a call for NATO soldiers to surrender with threats of retribution and anger of the people, "who have not suffered defeat in any war" (apparently, Russian people).
The "Vzaimodeysvtie-2016" exercises had a standard scenario: isolating a border armed conflict and eliminating illegal armed groups. Permanent representative of Russia to NATO Aleksandr Grushko observed the exercise for the first time, which was unusual. The link between the presence of the high-ranking Russian official known for his harsh statements against NATO and the calls to alleged NATO soldiers to surrender, seems obvious. That said, of six CSTO Members States, only Russia regards NATO as a potential enemy. Evidently, the CSTO was not involved in the provocation: from 6000 troops involved in the exercise only 1300 were representing the CSTO CRRF, while the rest - the Western Military District of the Russian army. The latter were responsible for the anti-NATO demonstration.
It is unlikely that Russia aimed to put the CSTO as an anti-Western alliance or complicate relations between NATO and other CSTO Member States. The point is that Moscow neglected opinions of its formal allies. Russia regards CSTO as means to monitor military potential of her allies, rather than an international organisation based on the principles of equality and respect for the interests of all members. NATO’s public response to CSTO provocation is unlikely to follow. However, Russia’s arrogance and self-confidence calls into question the viability of the CSTO.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.