YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Citing lingering tensions along its border with Azerbaijan, Armenia has decided not to participate in military exercises which the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) began in Kazakhstan on Monday, September 26.
The Kazakh Defense Ministry reported that the two-week exercises will bring together “rapid reaction forces” of Russia, Kazakhstan and other ex-Soviet members of the military alliance. According to the CSTO Joint Staff in Moscow, they will simulate a coordinated response to an imaginary military conflict in Central Asia.
In a statement cited by Infocom.am, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said the decision to send Armenian troops to the drills was made in view of “the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border that arose as a result of Azerbaijan’s military aggression.” The ministry took into account “tasks set for the Armenian Armed Forces” in the current circumstances, added the statement.
Armenia appealed to the CSTO for military aid just hours after large-scale fighting erupted at several sections of the border on the night of September 12-13. Azerbaijani forces reportedly attacked Armenian army positions with the help of heavy artillery and combat drones.
Russia and other CSTO member states effectively declined the request, deciding instead to send to Armenia fact-finding missions tasked with studying the situation on the ground and submitting policy recommendations. Armenian officials criticized the bloc’s reluctance to openly side with Yerevan.
Meeting with the CSTO’s visiting Secretary-General Stanislav Zas last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Vahe Gevorgyan said the Armenian government continues to expect from the CSTO “concrete actions towards restoring CSTO member Armenia’s territorial integrity and preventing new escalations.”