Pashinyan names condition for Armenia’s withdrawal from CSTO

Armenia will withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) if its leadership does not outline how it sees the borders of the country’s sovereign territory, the republic’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said.

According to him, Yerevan has received assurances from the CSTO that it is ready to deploy peacekeepers on the border with Azerbaijan, but the organization has not indicated where that border runs. “We are now asking, expecting, demanding that our esteemed CSTO partners answer the question what is the CSTO’s zone of responsibility in Armenia”, Pashinyan said.

He recalled that before Armenia’s war with Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, the CSTO and Russia expressed a “clear position” that Armenia’s sovereign territory is a “red line” for Moscow and the organization.

“However, when during Azerbaijan’s invasion in May 2021 Armenia recorded that the red line was passed, the CSTO did not follow the steps specified in the charter”, Pashinyan emphasized. He added that after that Azerbaijan resumed hostilities in November 2021 and September 2022.

At the same time, in 2020 the CSTO said it was ready to send peacekeepers to Armenia, but Yerevan had a question why the organization acts as a neutral party if Armenia participates in it, Pashinyan noted.

According to the Armenian premier, if the CSTO answers the question of how it sees Armenia’s sovereign territory, and if that answer “corresponds to our perceptions”, the issue between the republic and the organization will be resolved. “If not, Armenia will leave the CSTO. When, I can’t say”, Pashinyan concluded.

In late February, Armenia’s prime minister said the republic’s membership in the CSTO was “frozen” because the collective security treaty was not actually working for Yerevan. The organization’s secretariat and the Kremlin said afterwards that they had not received an official statement from Yerevan about the membership freeze.

Pashinyan has repeatedly criticized the CSTO for failing to protect Armenia from Azerbaijani aggression amid the war in Karabakh, which ended in September 2023 with Nagorno-Karabakh coming under Baku’s control. As a result, more than 100,000 of the region’s Armenian population was forced to leave it. The unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), which had existed since 1991, self-dissolved on January 1, 2024.

Armenia did not participate in CSTO events in 2023, notably two exercises and a summit in Minsk in November. The Kremlin regretted this and emphasized that such meetings are “a very good occasion for exchanging views, reconciling watches”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that Armenia’s withdrawal from the CSTO does not meet Yerevan’s interests. According to Putin, the republic’s non-participation in the organization’s events was connected “with some processes” in Yerevan, but not “with the desire or unwillingness to continue working” in the association.

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