fbpx

Pashinyan: Armenia has ‘frozen’ its participation in the CSTO

23 February 2024
Niklol Pashinyan at the 2022 CSTO summit. Official photo.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said that Armenia’s participation in the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) was ‘basically frozen’ because of its failure to come to Armenia’s defence.

In an interview with France 24 on Thursday, Pashinyan criticised the CSTO for not fulfilling its security obligations towards Armenia in 2021 and 2022, saying that the CSTO’s refusal to come to its aid in the face of Azerbaijani attacks ‘could not have gone without consequences’.

‘The consequence is that in practice, we have basically frozen our participation in the CSTO’, said Pashinyan.

Article 4 of the CSTO charter stipulates that members of the security bloc are obliged to mutually defend each other against external threats or attacks.

The interviewer also asked Pashinyan if Armenia intended to close Russia’s military base in Armenia, to which he replied that Russia’s military presence in Armenia was based on a separate ‘legal-contractual framework’. 

‘We haven’t had the occasion to address that framework’, said Pashinyan.

Pashinyan went on to accuse Russia of inciting Armenians to overthrow the government In September and October 2023.

Advertisements

‘Russia’s highest-ranking representatives directly called on the citizens of Armenia to take to the streets and overthrow the elected, legitimate government of Armenia’, said Pashinyan, adding that Russian media had produced ‘systematic, consistent, and purposeful’ propaganda against the government, the elected authorities, and him personally for six years.

[Read more: Kremlin propaganda turns up the heat on Armenia]

Pashinyan also addressed the alleged abduction of Dmitriy Setrakov, a Russian fleeing the draft, from Armenia.

Setrakov was reportedly abducted by Russian soldiers impersonating Armenian military police and held in the Russian military base in Gyumri, before being transferred to Rostov-on-Don in Russia.

The Prime Minister stated that the Armenian authorities were investigating Setrakov’s reported abduction.

‘If everything turns out to be as you say, it will, of course, lead to certain consequences because we cannot tolerate illegal actions on the territory of our country’, said Pashinyan, adding that the specific consequences would depend on Armenia’s legal assessment of the incident. 

On the same day as the interview, Armenian independent media outlet Factor cited ‘high-ranking Armenian’ sources as saying that Russian border guards stationed in Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport would be removed ‘in the near future’.

Factor’s source refused to specify why the Russian border guards would be removed but stated that it was a ‘political decision’. The report came a day after Armenian and EU officials announced that Russian border guards had obstructed the EU mission in Armenia. Armenia’s National Security Service told Factor that they were not aware of the reported decision.

On Friday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning Pashinyan’s criticism of the CSTO.

‘We expect comprehensive explanations through bilateral channels about what really stands behind Pashinyan’s statements regarding Armenia freezing its membership in the Collective Security Treaty and in the Organisation itself’, stated the ministry. 

The CSTO on the same day told Ria Novosti that they had not received any requests from Yerevan to terminate its membership in the security bloc, and suggested that Pashinyan could instead have been referring to Armenia’s absence from CSTO drills and meetings.

Military cooperation with France and the threat of war

During the interview, Pashinyan warned that Azerbaijan could be preparing for a new war, echoing statements he made on 15 February. 

‘In the peace agreement, we have a problem expressing the three principles declared and published in the framework of agreements reached on international platforms’, Pashinyan told France 24.

‘Analysing these problems and the statements coming from official Baku, we come to the conclusion that yes, an attack on Armenia is very likely’.

[Listen to the Caucasus Digest: Are Armenia and Azerbaijan heading towards war?]

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry dismissed Pashinyan’s latest warning as allegations ‘aimed at clearly distorting the existing fact and confusing the international community’.

The ministry also accused France of having a ‘negative’ impact on the peace process.

France has grown increasingly supportive of Armenia since the 2020 war, even more so after the 2022 September fighting in Armenia.

On Friday, France’s Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu visited Armenia to sign several agreements.

Le Figaro reported that Paris will deliver three GM 200 radars and night vision devices to Armenia, and that France would also provide Armenia with three-phase mountain combat training courses.

Read in Georgian on On.ge.
Read in Russian on SOVA.News.