"CSTO military contingent went to Kazakhstan, but never came to Armenia"
CSTO peacekeeping contingent dispatch to Kazakhstan
70 Armenian servicemen went to Kazakhstan as part of the peacekeeping forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military bloc operating under the auspices of Russia. Armenia is a member of the CSTO and the bloc also includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Since autumn 2021, Armenia has assumed the chairmanship of the organization for a year. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced the dispatch of a military contingent to Kazakhstan on the night of January 6 on his Facebook page.
However, the position of not all CSTO member states was unambiguous on this issue. The Kyrgyz parliament, in particular, did not approve of the proposal to send military personnel to Kazakhstan.
The opposition of Armenia and experts are outraged that the CSTO sent peacekeepers to Kazakhstan, but did not respond to the call for help from Armenia when the armed forces of Azerbaijan invaded the sovereign territory of Armenia.
- Fresh clashes at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, Yerevan asks Russia to intervene
- Mikheil Saakashvili: I welcome the struggle for freedom of Kazakh people
- Commentary from Yerevan: Why the fighting continues at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border?
Protests in Kazakhstan and the dispatch of peacekeepers
The situation in Kazakhstan escalated in early January, when the country’s residents opposed the rise in prices for liquefied gas.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made an address to the people. He stated that “crowds of bandits are beating up the servicemen, mocking them, driving them naked through the streets, subjecting women to violence, robbing shops”.
The President stressed that “he is obliged to protect the safety and tranquility of citizens, to worry about the integrity of Kazakhstan”. At the same time, he considered that the measures he had taken were not sufficient and he, therefore, turned to the CSTO military bloc for help in overcoming the “terrorist threat”.
In response, it was decided to send a CSTO peacekeeping mission to Kazakhstan. The Prime Minister of Armenia and Chairman of the CSTO Collective Security Council Nikol Pashinyan said on social media:
“In connection with the appeal of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan K.-Zh. K. Tokayev and in view of the threat to national security and the sovereignty of the Republic of Kazakhstan caused, inter alia, by outside interference, the CSTO Collective Security Council, in accordance with Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty, decided to send the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces to the Republic of Kazakhstan for a limited time period with the aim of stabilizing and normalizing the situation in this country”.
From 5 to 19 January, a state of emergency was declared throughout Kazakhstan. The protests escalated into clashes, as a result of which hundreds of people were killed and injured. According to the Armenian Embassy in Kazakhstan, there are no casualties among the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.
The peacekeeping mission has already arrived in Kazakhstan. According to the CSTO, the main tasks of the peacekeeping forces include the protection of state and military facilities and assistance to the law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan in stabilizing the situation.
As reported on the official website of the CSTO, the peacekeeping contingent includes the armed formations of all participating countries, including Kyrgyzstan.
A spokesman for the Kyrgyz president said their military would “control strategic objects” and would not take part in operations against the protesters. Apparently, this is due to the fact that the parliament of this country did not approve the sending of its contingent to Kazakhstan.
Armenian opposition condemns the position of the CSTO
In May 2021, when the Azerbaijani Armed Forces invaded the sovereign territory of Armenia, the country officially applied to the CSTO for help, but did not receive a positive response. In this regard, the statement of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on social media announcing the dispatch of a peacekeeping contingent to Kazakhstan caused a resonance among Armenian users.
The oppositionists also commented on the situation. In particular, the former MP and leader of the opposition parliamentary faction “Enlightened Armenia” Edmon Marukyan stated:
“The territory from 40 to 45 square kilometers from the sovereign territory of Armenia has been under the control of Azerbaijan for several months. No force – neither an urgent nor a slow response, came to our aid, despite all our appeals”.
Political scientist Robert Ghevondyan believes that the CSTO has openly demonstrated that it is an internal police structure, not a military bloc.
According to him, if earlier, Armenia’s membership was formal – in order not to spoil relations with Russia, now it is becoming dangerous:
“Not a single Armenian soldier should leave for Kazakhstan under any circumstances and for any time period. This is a threat to the statehood of Armenia, which we have not had since 1991. In case of an order to send an Armenian soldier to Kazakhstan, the legitimacy of the Armenian government will be called into question, which is fraught with unpredictable consequences for Yerevan”.
According to the political scientist, the people of Kazakhstan have the right to make their choice, and Armenia has no moral or other obligations to get involved in this process.