Armenia has security options
But no guarantees
ANALYTICS 26 November 2023 - 13:50
On November 23, the next summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was held in Minsk.
As you know, the Armenian side ignored the summit. “The CSTO, contrary to its obligations, did not give a proper response to the security challenges to Armenia, and this was repeated several times. With all due respect to our colleagues in the CSTO, it is not clear why we go to these events every time (meetings within the CSTO), repeat the same thing, and every time do not get the proper reaction,” Pashinyan recently noted.
Despite the fact that this decision became a kind of demarche against the organization, it is also an indicator of the crisis in relations between Armenia and Russia at all levels. Indeed, the degree of unfriendliness of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Armenia towards several CSTO member states has already exceeded all permissible norms. The ratification of the Rome Statute and the related personal challenge to Putin, the recent meeting of the Armenian prime minister with the Belarusian oppositionist Tatyana Tikhanovskaya, actually made Pashinyan a non-handshake for the Russian and Belarusian leaders. The appearance before their eyes threatens Pashinyan with the strongest stress.
Why would Armenia not withdraw from this military bloc under these conditions? All the more so, Pashinyan does not stop complaining about his insensitivity "to the troubles" of Armenia. The CSTO Charter does not pose great obstacles to leaving the organization. For a country that wants to leave the ranks of the organization's members, it is enough to notify the CSTO Council six months before the exit date.
Besides, there is a precedent. In 2012, Uzbekistan left the organization after notifying the Council six months in advance, as expected. Before 2002, that is, before the adoption of the CSTO Charter, it was even easier to do this. Considering that the Contract after its entry into force in 1994 was urgent and was renewed every five years, it was enough not to put your signature under the extension contract. Uzbekistan, already mentioned above, left the organization for the first time in this way in 1999, then re-joined in 2006 to withdraw again. Together with him, Georgia and Azerbaijan announced their withdrawal in 1999. Yes, few people remember, but Azerbaijan was a member of the CSTO from 1993 to 1999.
That is, leaving the CSTO is not a problem. However, with the solution of this problem, another one is not automatically solved – the presence of a Russian military base in Gyumri. Its status is regulated by a bilateral agreement between Russia and Armenia. The significance of this base in terms of Russian influence in Armenia is much higher than from membership in the CSTO because the base is firmly on the ground. It is almost impossible to achieve its curtailment before 2044 (namely, the presence of Russian troops is stipulated before this date). As we have already written, a bilateral mixed commission should be created for this – that is, not the fastest way to resolve the issue, especially when the parties take opposite positions.
So, what is the point of leaving the CSTO if the Russian military base is not going anywhere anyway? Under these circumstances, there is no reason for Yerevan to announce its withdrawal from the CSTO, i.e. to give Moscow another reason to accuse it of a destructive approach. Instead, it is much more profitable, on the contrary, to stand in the posture of the offended and play on nerves, complaining about the CSTO, and at the same time not to withdraw from it, as if leaving hope for brighter prospects of cooperation.
Moreover, by neglecting its obligations under the CSTO, Yerevan may be trying to bring the matter to the point where the other member states themselves expel it from the organization. And then Pashinyan and his team will use this as an act of hostility of the CSTO and Russia towards Armenia, "which was required to prove".
That is, the delay will last until the situation with Western guarantees becomes clearer. In addition, Yerevan is still not sure about the extent of these guarantees. Yes, many things have already been promised by both the European Union and the United States. However, nothing particular has been done so far.
On the other hand, Armenia inspires suspicion that the European taxpayer is unlikely to be burdened with more impressive purchases for the sake of a distant country in the Caucasus. However, it is not ruled out that the West will nevertheless start providing Armenia with substantial security assistance. In particular, within the framework of the agreements between Washington and Yerevan, which we have already mentioned more than once.
Meanwhile, Yerevan prefers to continue committing provocations against its CSTO partners. Thus, at the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly, in which, unlike the summit, Armenia participates, its representatives did not approve a draft statement on the attempt to encourage a Nazi from the SS division "Galicia" in the Canadian Parliament.
Moscow treats Yerevan's antics more than calmly, not allowing itself to be drawn into a noisy altercation, and apparently preferring to wait for Armenia's big European promise to end. Or maybe Moscow is not just waiting, but doing something that we don't know about yet. In any case, outwardly everything looks impeccably restrained. "We expect Armenia to continue its work within the framework of the organization," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a briefing.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also made a similar statement, though she added alarmingly that Yerevan's decision not to take part in the CSTO events in Minsk was not in the interests of the Armenian people.
So, no matter how the fate of Armenia's membership in the CSTO turns out, as noted above, the main prize for Pashinyan would be the base in Gyumri, or rather its absence. His tactic seems to be to get a solid military presence of Western countries so that they can "deal with the Russians themselves". This very approach testifies to Armenia's loss of key signs of statehood.
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