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14 Sep, 2022 00:30

Russian-led military bloc sending team to Armenia

The CSTO secretary general will personally lead the mission after Yerevan blamed Baku for recent clashes
Russian-led military bloc sending team to Armenia

The Collective Security Treaty Organization announced on Tuesday that it will send a mission to Armenia to report on the situation in the southern Caucasus and propose solutions to the tensions with Azerbaijan. The mission will be led by CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas of Belarus and include Russian General Anatoly Sidorov, the head of the bloc’s joint staff.

The decision was made at a videoconference of the bloc’s Security Council convened by Armenia, which currently presides over the CSTO. Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan informed the allies about the overnight border clashes with Azerbaijan. At least 49 Armenians and 50 Azerbaijanis were killed in the fighting, which involved heavy artillery and drones, according to the defense ministries in Yerevan and Baku.

Russian President Vladimir Putin informed the allies on the practical steps Moscow has taken to de-escalate the tensions on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The CSTO endorsed the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict “exclusively by political and diplomatic means based on the generally recognized principles of international law” and the Russian-mediated ceasefire in November 2020, the organization said.

Moscow had brokered an end to the 44-day conflict, in which Azerbaijan recaptured a large portion of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region predominantly inhabited by ethnic Armenians that seceded from Baku in the 1990s.

While the remaining part of Nagorno-Karabakh has been patrolled by Russian peacekeepers and remained relatively peaceful ever since, in August, Azerbaijan demanded that Armenia fully “demilitarize” the area and threatened a military operation if this does not happen.

Armenia appealed to the CSTO after Tuesday’s clashes began, but it is not known if Yerevan has officially invoked Article 4, which treats an attack on one member as an attack on all.

The bloc, established in 1994, also includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan were members until 1999 but then withdrew, with Baku and Tbilisi seeking ties to NATO instead. Tashkent rejoined in 2006 only to leave again in 2012.