What will happen next at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border?
Tensions continue in the Gegharkunik and Syunik regions adjacent to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The situation escalated on May 12, when the Azerbaijani Armed Forces advanced their positions several kilometers into the territory of Armenia and refused to withdraw despite Armenia’s repeated calls.
Armenia is currently trying to have the Azerbaijani Armed Forces withdraw from its sovereign territory by means of peaceful negotiations, however, they have not yet brought about any concrete results and only a small number of Azerbaijani military personnel have left the territory of Armenia.
Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military bloc to which Armenia has turned for help, have not yet taken practical steps to resolve the situation.
Meanwhile, Russia declares the possibility of Azerbaijan’s involvement in the CSTO. Armenia is already a member of this military bloc, which operates under the leadership of Russia and Yerevan has traditionally been opposed to joint membership with Azerbaijan in international organizations. But so far the Armenian authorities have not reacted to this statement in any way.
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On May 17, Armenia began consultations with the CSTO on the provision of military assistance amid the ongoing escalation, but the issue remains under consideration. On May 19, the CSTO stated that it was watching the development of the situation [at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border] “with concern”.
Requesting assistance directly from Russia did not help to change the situation either. Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Andrei Rudenko said that Russia will provide assistance in resolving tensions on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, if both sides request it. Armenian political scientists assessed this statement as a refusal to provide assistance to Armenia, a strategic ally of Russia.
Meanwhile, Rudenko, when answering a question of how he views the prospects for expanding membership in the organization stated that “the doors of the CSTO should be open for everyone, including Azerbaijan”.
Andrei Rudenko added Azerbaijan’s membership can be limited only by certain provisions of the organization’s charter, according to which, in order to participate in the CSTO, diplomatic relations are required between its members:
“There are no such relations yet between Azerbaijan and Armenia. When they are installed – we hope that sooner or later this will happen – then this issue can also be discussed in a more practical context”, said the deputy foreign minister of Russia.
It is not yet clear whether Armenia will turn to Western countries and the UN Security Council for help in resolving the ongoing situation. However, on May 24, Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan discussed the tensions at the border with the ambassadors of the co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group. During the meeting, Ayvazyan confirmed Armenia’s readiness to resolve the issue by political and diplomatic means.