Armenia to Leave Russia-Led Security Alliance Amid Growing Tensions

June 13, 2024 by No Comments

On Wednesday, the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced his decision to withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russia-led military alliance of former Soviet nations. While the exact date of departure will be determined later, Pashinyan firmly stated that Armenia’s withdrawal from the CSTO is irreversible.

Prior to this declaration, Armenia had already signaled its growing distance from Russia by freezing its participation in the CSTO, canceling joint military drills, and boycotting alliance summits. This announcement marks a significant escalation in the rift between the two countries.

In an attempt to clarify the situation, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan emphasized that Pashinyan did not explicitly state that Armenia is immediately withdrawing from the CSTO. However, the Prime Minister’s clear statement leaves little room for interpretation.

The announcement comes amidst heightened tensions between Armenia and Russia, fueled by Azerbaijan’s military campaign in the Karabakh region. Armenia accused Russian peacekeepers, deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh, of failing to prevent Azerbaijan’s advance, a claim that Russia denied. The Kremlin maintained that its troops did not have a mandate to intervene.

Pashinyan further criticized the CSTO for its inaction in protecting Armenia and alleged that some members had colluded with Azerbaijan. He stated that CSTO members failed to fulfill their treaty obligations and ultimately collaborated with Azerbaijan during the conflict.

Russia, navigating a complex geopolitical landscape, has sought to maintain close relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, its key ally Turkey. Moscow’s efforts to balance its ties have been complicated by Armenia’s growing engagement with the West and its decision to join the International Criminal Court, which issued a warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s arrest. Despite these tensions, Russia has downplayed the differences, focusing instead on the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Pashinyan’s decision comes as he faces significant domestic pressure, with large protests demanding his resignation over his government’s agreement to cede four border villages to Azerbaijan as part of a proposed peace deal. Violent clashes erupted on Wednesday outside the Armenian parliament as protestors attempted to break through police barriers, resulting in injuries to both protestors and police officers. A large number of protestors were detained by authorities.

The Armenian Union of Journalists issued a statement condemning the police response, describing it as excessive and demanding accountability for the injuries sustained by at least 10 journalists during the clashes.