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22 Feb, 2024 22:53

Armenia ‘suspends’ security pact with Russia

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan says his decision was motivated by the conflict with Azerbaijan
Armenia ‘suspends’ security pact with Russia

Armenia has de facto suspended its participation in a key security agreement with Russia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said, citing continuing tensions with its neighbor and arch-rival Azerbaijan.

In an interview with France 24 that was broadcast on Thursday, Pashinyan said his country has grown dissatisfied with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a six-member bloc founded shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

“We believe that, in Armenia’s case, the treaty has not been implemented, especially in 2021-2022, and it couldn’t go unnoticed,” Pashiyan explained. “We have suspended our participation in this treaty. We’ll see what happens next.”

Armenia began refusing to attend certain CSTO events and military drills last year. Pashinyan said in the past, however, that Yerevan had no plans to formally cut ties with the bloc. He urged the alliance and its leading member Russia to back Armenia during its conflict with Azerbaijan and condemn the latter’s “aggression” in the region.

Earlier this month, Yeveran and Baku accused each other of starting a firefight at the border that left four Armenian soldiers dead and an Azerbaijan border guard wounded. Pashinyan claimed following the clash that Azerbaijan was planning “a full-scale war” against his country. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, in turn, accused Armenia of stirring up tensions.

In 2020, Azerbaijan recaptured a large portion of its breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was populated by ethnic Armenians and aligned with Yerevan. The 44-day war ended in a ceasefire that saw Russian peacekeepers deployed in the region. Smaller-scale border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan continued in 2021 and 2022.

Baku re-established full control over Karabakh during a lightning offensive in September 2023, prompting more than 100,000 local Armenians to flee. Pashinyan recognized Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan the same year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in December 2023 that it would not be “in Armenia’s interests” to quit the CSTO. He added, however, that the ultimate decision should be made by Yerevan, and stressed that Moscow would like to maintain friendly relations with the South Caucasus country.