"CSTO fiasco": military bloc decided not to assist Armenia
“The document on CSTO assistance to Armenia is almost ready, but needs some revision,” Secretary General of the organization Stanislav Zas told reporters after a meeting of the Collective Security Council in Yerevan.
This means the military bloc never made a decision to provide military assistance to Armenia to protect its borders, which Yerevan had requested. Zas noted that after the amendments are made, the document will be submitted for signing to the heads of states included in the bloc, but did not give specific dates.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan described the CSTO handling of the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan as a “fiasco”. The press secretary of the President of Russia said this as well, adding that it is “the right of Armenia to regard the situation in this way, but on the other hand, the demands on the CSTO in this situation are obvious.”
About the meeting in Yerevan and protest taking place over the CSTO summit.
Pashinyan refused to sign a document on providing assistance to Armenia
After the meeting, the Prime Minister of Armenia said that seventeen projects were discussed, but fifteen were agreed upon. Pashinyan refused to sign the CSTO document on providing assistance to Armenia, since it did not include Armenia’s own proposals.
Here is one of those proposals: “By the decision of the CSTO, to accelerate the necessary political and diplomatic work with Azerbaijan, aimed at the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia to their original positions as of May 11, 2021.”
In addition, Pashinyan announced that the lack of a clear political assessment of the situation and a decision to help Armenia could mean not only the CSTO abandoning its allied obligations, but also “may be interpreted by Azerbaijan as a green light to continue its aggression against Armenia.”
“Starting from May 11, 2021, Azerbaijan has used force three times and occupied approximately 140 square kilometers of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. This happened on May 11 and November 14, 2021 and September 13, 2022. So, according to the UN resolution of December 14, 1974, number 3314, the above actions of Azerbaijan are regarded as aggression.
What do we expect from the CSTO in this regard? Statements to this effect in the form of a clearly formulated political assessment. To refrain from such an assessment, saying that there is no border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, is to assert that there is no zone of responsibility of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and if there is no zone of responsibility, then there is no organization itself,” the Prime Minister of Armenia said.
The members of the CSTO are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Heads of states belonging to the military bloc, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrived in Armenia to participate in the summit. This was the eighth visit of a Russian president to Armenia, but the first since the 2020 Karabakh war.
“It is not our business to restrain anyone” – Lukashenko
In his opening speech at the summit, Pashinyan stated that “Armenia’s membership in the CSTO did not deter Azerbaijan from aggressive actions, and the organization’s inaction on this issue causes great damage to its image.”
“I hope we will be able to coordinate our allied approaches and achieve well-coordinated collective interaction on topical issues,” Pashinyan concluded.
To which the President of Belarus replied that it is not within the functions of the CSTO to restrain anyone. According to Alexander Lukashenko, the task of the CSTO is to “react after the fact”, and the military bloc is ready for this.
“The document is almost ready”
CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas reported the document to be nearing completion at the end of the summit.
“In general, a certain set of measures was agreed on to provide assistance to Armenia in this difficult situation, which, of course, is connected with tension on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Tension remains on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” he said.
According to Zas, it is normal that the summit participants failed to reach a consensus and adopt a document. He stated that “there are no such international organizations where everyone thinks the same way.”
Armenia once again turned to Russia and the CSTO for military assistance after the hostilities on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in September this year. Instead of an urgent response, the CSTO sent a monitoring mission to Armenia after some time. Then in Yerevan they expected a political assessment of the situation from the organization. The day before the Yerevan summit, Pashinyan expressed hope that the allies would “support Armenia’s position on the withdrawal of the Azerbaijani armed forces from the territories they occupied.”
The President of Azerbaijan himself, two days before the CSTO summit in Yerevan, said that in this organization “Azerbaijan has more friends than Armenia.” Armenian social media users echoed Ilham Aliyev’s opinion with a joke: “Don’t be modest, Armenia has no friends at all in the CSTO.”
“Armenia must leave the CSTO” – protests in Yerevan
In parallel with the meeting in the center of Yerevan, a rally was held on Freedom Square demanding Armenia leave the military bloc. Protesters carried Armenian, American, European, and Ukrainian flags.
The protesters said that Armenia should reconsider its allied relations with Russia, despite difficulties. But first of all, in their opinion, the country should leave the CSTO.
“By leaving the ranks of the CSTO and abandoning Russia, Armenia will be able to shake hands with France and the United States,” political scientist Armen Hovhannisyan said.
“They want to deprive Armenia of independence and sovereignty, which we must not allow,” political scientist Stepan Grigoryan said.
The rally participants said that their speeches should not be regarded as anti-Russian propaganda, and they are only criticizing the “imperial behavior of the Kremlin.”
“Return our sons” – an appeal to Putin
Another protest took place in the second largest city of Armenia, Gyumri, in front of the Russian consulate. Relatives of soldiers captured in the Khtsaberd settlement in NK after the end of the 2020 Karabakh war gathered to demand the release of their sons.
“We are not asking, but demanding from the President of the Russian Federation and the authorities of Armenia to return our sons from Azerbaijan. Putin is the head of a superpowerful state, let him be responsible for the implementation of the tripartite agreement [statement on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh, signed with the mediation of Russia]. If he wants it, our boys can return home very soon,” said one of the protesters.
Protests with the same demand were organized by the parents of the prisoners and the missing in Yerevan, with one taking place on Republic Square, and another at the Russian embassy.
Result of CSTO meeting in Yerevan