Ex-Soviet state threatens to leave Russian-led military alliance


There is a very real possibility of Armenia leaving the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in Yerevan on Monday.

“I wouldn’t say that this issue is off the agenda,” Pashinyan told reporters. “I cannot rule out that Armenia may de jure withdraw from the CSTO or freeze its membership.”

He added that this might happen only if Yerevan officially establishes that the CSTO has abandoned Armenia, and further membership might become a security liability.

The government is currently discussing whether Armenia will participate in the upcoming CSTO military exercises in Kyrgyzstan, and if so, in what format and to what extent, Pashinyan said.

Established in 1992, the CSTO currently includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – all former republics of the Soviet Union.

Since the visit by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in September 2022, Pashinyan has begun to blame the alliance for not deterring Azerbaijan – another ex-Soviet republic – from moving against the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2022, as well as engaging in border skirmishes with its Caucasus neighbor.

On Monday, he also claimed Armenia had lost opportunities to buy weapons and military equipment from other countries due to its membership in the CSTO.

At the same press conference, Pashinyan said he was ready to recognize Azerbaijan’s claim to Nagorno-Karabakh if “international guarantees” were provided for ethnic Armenians in the region, and if Baku would withdraw from several areas of Armenia proper that its troops have seized.

It was unclear what the prime minister meant by international guarantees. Russia negotiated the ceasefire and deployed peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, after Azeri forces cut the only road between the region and Armenia proper. In January of this year, Yerevan solicited an EU monitoring mission, which was criticized by Moscow.

“The CSTO has demonstrated its effectiveness in various situations” and “has serious potential for further development,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, in response to Pashinyan’s press conference. Russia will “certainly continue the dialogue with our Armenian friends,” he added.


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