Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of other CSTO member states arrive for a summit in Moscow, May 16, 2022

By Aza Babayan

MOSCOW (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan again criticized the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on Monday, May 16, for not openly siding with Armenia in its border dispute with Azerbaijan.

“As you know, one year ago Azerbaijani troops invaded Armenia’s sovereign territory,” Pashinyan told a CSTO summit in Moscow. “Armenia appealed to the CSTO to activate its mechanisms for crisis situations. Unfortunately, we cannot say that the organization reacted in a way that was expected by Armenia. “

Armenia appealed to the CSTO for help shortly after Azerbaijani troops reportedly crossed several sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and advanced a few kilometers into Armenian territory in May 2021. It asked the alliance of six ex-Soviet states to invoke Article 2 of its founding treaty which requires them to discuss a collective response to grave security threats facing one of them.

Russia and other CSTO member states expressed concern over the border tensions but did not issue joint statements in support of Armenia. The bloc’s secretary general, Stanislav Zas, said last July that the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute is not serious enough to warrant a CSTO military intervention.

In an apparent jibe at Russia, Pashinyan also criticized his country’s unnamed ex-Soviet allies for selling weapons to Azerbaijan, which he said were used against “Armenia and the Armenian people” during the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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At the same time, Pashinyan again acknowledged Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special role” in stopping the six-war through a ceasefire brokered by Moscow in November 2020. He further declared that Yerevan remains committed to the CSTO because it regards the bloc as a “key factor of stability and security “for Armenia and the entire” Eurasian region.“

In his opening remarks at the summit, timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the CSTO’s creation, Putin focused on the continuing war in Ukraine. He briefed the leaders of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on Russia “special military operation” there during an ensuing discussion held behind closed doors.

Belarus is the only non-Russian CSTO country to have publicly backed the Russian invasion. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko chided the other member states for adopting a more cautious stance and not acting in a united front against NATO’s eastward expansion.

“If there is no unity in our ranks we may not exist tomorrow,” Lukashenko warned.

A joint statement issued by the CSTO leaders after the summit makes no explicit mention of the conflict in Ukraine.

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