Moscow stands firm against Yerevan's intrigues and blackmail
    Insisting on Armenia's CSTO membership

    ANALYTICS  22 February 2024 - 13:17

    Matanat Nasibova

    The intrigues surrounding membership of the CSTO continue to plague the Armenian leadership. From time to time, Yerevan makes contradictory statements in this regard. However, the fact that Armenia is avoiding its obligations as a member of the organisation suggests that Pashinyan has not yet made up his mind whether to stay or leave the CSTO.

    So far, Yerevan has acted ad hoc, threatening to leave on the one hand and making declarative statements that it has no plans to leave the military bloc on the other. Last November, for example, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Yerevan was "not preparing the ground" for a withdrawal from the CSTO by not participating in the organisation's events, but was giving itself and the bloc time to consider further steps. This is how he explained his decision not to attend the CSTO meeting scheduled for the end of November.

    Meanwhile, in May of the same year, the Armenian prime minister eloquently declared that Armenia might suspend its membership of the CSTO. "I do not rule out the possibility that Armenia may de jure decide to suspend or freeze its membership in the CSTO. If the CSTO leaves Armenia, Yerevan will solve its own security issues independently," the prime minister said.

    But as Yerevan's subsequent actions have shown, the Armenian leadership lacked the political will to leave the organisation. It seems that the idea of blackmailing its ally - Russia - is firmly entrenched in the minds of Armenian politicians. For example, it is still unclear whether the Armenian side has signed the documents adopted at the CSTO summit in Minsk last year.

    These documents were brought to Yerevan in December by CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov, but the Armenian side is not commenting on this issue, although the fact that the Secretary-General came to Yerevan for this purpose is beyond doubt.

    As is well known, over the past year Armenia has made a mess of things with a series of outbursts against CSTO and demonstratively refusing to take part in the organisation's events. Nevertheless, Moscow, which is closely monitoring Nikol Pashinyan's inconsistent policies, continues to insist on Armenia's membership in the CSTO.

    In particular, CSTO Secretary General Imangali Tasmagambetov's article in the pages of International Life magazine made several important points about Armenia. He noted that "Armenia's work in the organisation continues, Yerevan's multilateral contacts within the CSTO are in a working mode, Armenia has been and remains an ally". He also mentioned the CSTO mission, the deployment of which on the notional Armenian-Azerbaijani border was hindered in Armenia.

    "As for the extremely alarming situation in the South Caucasus, in particular the Karabakh problem, it should be noted that the organisation was ready to send a peacekeeping mission to monitor the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, but in the final part of this work Yerevan asked to remove the relevant document from the agenda due to the imminent conclusion of a peace treaty with Baku. At the same time, Armenia's work in the organisation continues, Armenia was and remains an ally," Tasmagambetov said.

    Two conclusions can be drawn from the Secretary General's words. First, the CSTO has sent a message to the West that despite its demarches against Russia, Armenia is committed to Eurasian projects and, since Russia has no intention of abandoning its ally, Armenia will hardly succeed in leaving the organisation. Second, Moscow is signalling to its Western adversaries that the issue of placing a CSTO mission on the imaginary border has not been taken off the agenda and that Russia will continue to push for it, working closely with Armenia in a unified military bloc.

    The recent statement by Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov, Chief of the CSTO Joint Staff, in connection with last week's provocation on the conditional Armenian-Azerbaijani border showed that Russia will sit idle and watch the situation in the region escalate under the influence of the West.

    Pointing to the high potential for conflict on the notional Armenian-Azerbaijani border, Russia emphasised the need to sign a peace treaty and directed this message more to Armenia. Serdyukov also noted that the West was trying to influence a post-conflict settlement between Baku and Yerevan. "Despite Armenia's membership in the organisation, attempts are being made from outside to influence the format of the post-conflict settlement," the Russian general said.

    This suggests that Moscow is likely to continue pressuring Yerevan on the issue of CSTO membership. In addition, there is a possibility that Russia will pressure Pashinyan on the issue of deploying a CSTO mission on the conditional Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

    Russian experts consider Armenia's withdrawal from the CSTO unlikely and do not rule out the possibility of a CSTO mission on the conditional border. Russian political scientist Vasily Koltashov, director of the New Society Institute, told Caliber.Az that Russian diplomats can indeed make the CSTO mission on the conditional border work.

    "The deployment of CSTO observers on the conditional border can help prevent possible provocations on the border and develop a mechanism to foil such cases. This will be beneficial not only for Russia, but also for Azerbaijan and Armenia," Koltashov said.


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