Islamabad (Staff Report): “Iran is highly unlikely to join CSTO, a Russian-led security organization, but would increase its partnership with CSTO member-states bilaterally”, said Mr. Gleb Makarevich, a Russian expert based in Moscow.

He was speaking at an event organized by the Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad.

While speaking to an audience ranging from academia to foreign policy experts, Mr. Gleb pointed out that CSTO was not only security-oriented but also entailed a multifunctional approach. This was precisely why Russia didn’t assisted Armenia in the Nagarno-Karabakh conflict despite the latter’s request, he added.

Mr. Gleb, while acknowledging the limited resources of Russia, highlighted that Russia didn’t seek global dominance like the Soviet era but instead tried to gradually consolidate its partnership with former USSR states, the Middle East, South Asia, and the South Caucasus through a bilateral framework. He alluded to the fact that Russia considered Iran a strategic partner and sought collaboration in the military, defense, and technology sectors.

While emphasizing the role of Pakistan, Mr. Gleb added that Pakistan must join the International North-South Transit Corridor to maximize its economic potential and play its part in regional integration.

Fraz Naqvi, the In-charge of the Iran Program at IRS, mentioned that given the geopolitical environment, the role of CSTO was overshadowed by the more widely recognized SCO platform in which China is present. Mr. Naqvi added that since Russia invited both Iran and Saudi Arabia as observer states for CSTO military exercises held in September 2023, it was quite possible that Russia might be trying to become an alternative external state alongside China in the Middle East.

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