Armenia considers leaving CSTO as Russia failed to support Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addresses parliament in Yerevan, Armenia, September 13, 2022. Tigran Mehrabyan/PAN Photo via REUTERS

Russia said on Wednesday that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s decision to stay away from a summit of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) was the latest anti-Russian move by Armenia orchestrated by the West.

Relations between Russia and Armenia, which are formally allies, have soured in recent months, with Yerevan publicly questioning the value of its partnership with Russia and trying to deepen ties with the West.

Armenia will make a decision on whether to withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) if Yerevan determines that it is a “non-functional” structure, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a press conference on Monday.

“If Armenia decides de jure to leave the CSTO, it would happen only after Armenia establishes that the CSTO has left Armenia. This agenda exists should the CSTO become a non-functional organization. Then we would have to resolve our security issues on our own,” he said.

The Armenian prime minister added that Armenia’s participation in the CSTO’s upcoming drills in Kyrgyzstan was possible. “Armenia’s participation in the CTSO drills is currently being discussed. Additionally, its format and extent, in the event we do participate, are also being discussed,” he specified.

The trigger was Azerbaijan retaking its breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in September, prompting almost all of the territory’s 120,000 ethnic Armenians to flee despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers.

Some Armenians blamed Russia for failing to stop what Baku called an anti-terrorist operation, an allegation that Moscow has rejected.

Russian Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters that Russia saw Pashinyan’s refusal to attend the CSTO summit as the latest in a “chain” of events.

“The West is obviously behind it. The West, whose plans in Ukraine have failed, is now gripping Armenia, trying to tear it away from Russia,” she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Armenian state news agency Armenpress cited Pashinyan as telling the country’s parliament that the CSTO had repeatedly failed to protect Armenia’s interests.

He said that Armenia was looking to diversify its security arrangements, but that it had not yet decided whether or not it would leave the CSTO.

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