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Armenia and Belarus recall ambassadors in diplomatic row

14 June 2024
Nikol Pashinyan and Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 2018. Image via primeminister.am

Armenia and Belarus have recalled their ambassadors after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he would not visit Belarus while President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was in power, due to his support for Azerbaijan in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Yerevan and Minsk recalled their ambassadors for consultations on Thursday, with Armenia pulling its ambassador from Belarus hours after Pashinyan said that neither he nor any other Armenian representative would visit Belarus as long as Lukashenka remained in power.

‘One of the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation [CSTO] declares that he participated in the preparation for the 44-day war, that he encouraged, that he believed in and wished for the victory of Azerbaijan. After that, should I go and sit down with the President of Belarus in the CSTO format and discuss an issue?’, Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan was likely referring to statements made by Lukashenka in a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku in May, in which he stated that he expressed support for Azerbaijan in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War of 2020.

‘I remembered our conversation before the war, before your war of liberation, when we were philosophising over lunch, the two of us’, said Lukashenka. ‘We came to the conclusion then that it was possible to win the war. It is important. It is very important to hold on to that victory’.

Belarus dismissed Pashinyan’s statement, with the spokesperson for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, Anatoly Glaz, remarking on the ongoing anti-government protest movement in Armenia, and suggesting that people ‘have different reactions to serious emotional stress’.

‘We can understand this. But we don’t understand — what does Belarus have to do with it?’ he said, adding that Minsk was not going to ‘worsen’ its relations with Yerevan ‘no matter how much external players push the Armenian leadership to do so’.


‘We have never done anything to harm our friends, we do not interfere in internal affairs, we respect the Armenian people and sincerely wish them leaders who will truly think about the future of the country and the well-being of the people.’

In response, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry sent a note of protest to Minsk for his comments on Armenia’s internal affairs.

‘We should add, that while expressing wishes for a leadership that thinks about the future of the country, one should have such a leadership. In the case of Belarus, it’s currently indeed a luxury.’

Both Armenia and Belarus are members of the Russia-led CSTO, which Armenia appears to be moving towards abandoning for not coming to its defence against Azerbaijani attacks.

[Read more: Pashinyan: ‘we will leave’ Russia-led security pact]

Belarus’ ‘advanced military hardware’

On Thursday evening, after the two countries recalled their ambassadors, Politico published a report based on leaked documents detailing the alleged supply of advanced military hardware from Belarus to Azerbaijan between 2018 and 2022.

During this period Azerbaijan launched the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and finalised its military victory after Nagorno-Karabakh’s surrender in September 2023. 

Several other major clashes took place on the Azerbaijan–Armenia border in 2021 and 2022 in which Azerbaijan gained control over 150 square kilometres of territory inside Armenia, according to Yerevan.

On Friday, Andranik Kocharyan, the chair of the Armenian Parliament’s Defence Committee, told RFE/RL that Belarus sold several Polonez rocket artillery systems to Azerbaijan for $120 million.

Yerevan’s Regional Centre for Democracy and Security which helped to analyse the leaked documents, noted that ‘information about Belarusian arms sales to Azerbaijan prior to 2018 was public knowledge, and there were suspicions that these sales continued. However, this is the first solid evidence of such sales’.

They also said Russia would have known about the arms transfers as they passed through Russian territory.  

Speaking in November 2022, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev appeared to gloat over their ties to CSTO countries, stating that: ‘the number of our friends in this organisation is higher than those of Armenia’.

Read in Georgian on On.ge
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