Nikol Pashinyan, left, with Vladimir Putin in May 2018

Armenia Boycotts Another CSTO Meeting after Putin Issues Thinly-Veiled Threats

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By Shoghik Galstian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Armenia will skip a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on December 19, one month after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan boycotted a summit of the leaders of ex-Soviet states making up the Russian-led military alliance.

Parliament speaker Alen Simonyan confirmed his decision not to attend it when he spoke to reporters on Friday.

“Armenia’s sovereign territory was invaded by the armed forces of a third country, and the CSTO did not even give a political assessment of that. Why should we go there?” said Simonian.

The Armenian parliament’s press office said on Monday that other lawmakers will also not fly to Moscow for the session.

Armenia officially requested military aid from its CSTO allies after Azerbaijan’s offensive military operations launched along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in September 2022. It has since repeatedly accused them of ignoring the request in breach of the CSTO’s statutes and declared mission.

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Armenia’s boycott of high-level CSTO meetings held in recent months raised growing questions about its continued membership in the alliance. Simonian did not rule out the possibility of its exit.

The CSTO Parliamentary Assembly is due to discuss, among other things, the creation of a new joint air-defense system approved during the bloc’s November 22 summit in Minsk. Yerevan has not yet clarified whether it will sign up to that agreement.

Pro-government members of the Armenian parliament committee on defense and security on Monday refused to comment on the issue. Another lawmaker from the ruling Civil Contract party, Vagharshak Hakobyan, said Armenia should look into the new CSTO arrangement in a “very sober” manner.

“We are now in the process of very vigorously working on a peace treaty [with Azerbaijan,] but security guarantees are extremely important to us,” said Hakobyan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 14 suggested that Armenia is not planning to quit the CSTO and attributed Yerevan’s boycott of the organization to internal “processes” taking place in the country. By contrast, the Russian Foreign Ministry earlier accused Pashinyan of systematically “destroying” Russian-Armenian relations.

Putin again blamed Pashinyan’s government for the recent Azerbaijani takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh and the exodus of its ethnic Armenian population.

“I don’t think that it is in Armenia’s interests to end its membership in the [Commonwealth of Independent States,] the [Eurasian Economic Union,] and the [Collective Security Treaty Organization,]” he told a year-end news conference in Moscow. “Ultimately, this is still the choice of the state.”

“As for the absence of the prime minister of Armenia [Nikol Pashinyan] from common events, we know that this is due to some processes in Armenia and is not related to a desire or unwillingness to continue working in these integration associations. We’ll see how the situation develops,”

Those processes are “connected with Karabakh,” Putin said, referring to Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military offensive in the region launched despite the presence of Russian peacekeeping forces there.

“But it’s not we who abandoned Karabakh,” he went on. “It’s Armenia that recognized Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan. They did so purposefully and did not quite inform us that they are about to make such a decision.”

Putin already claimed earlier that the Russian peacekeepers could not have thwarted the Azerbaijani assault because Pashinyan had downgraded their mandate by recognizing Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh during Western-mediated negotiations.

Armenian leaders have blamed the Russians for their failure to prevent, stop or even condemn the Azerbaijani military operation despite the 2020 ceasefire brokered by Putin.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly accused Pashinyan of systematically “destroying” Russian-Armenian relations. Last week, it rebuked Yerevan for ignoring its recent offers to organize more Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks and warned that Pashinyan’s current preference of Western mediation may spell more trouble for the Armenian people.

 

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