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Member of Russia-led military bloc plans exit

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has branded the CSTO a “bubble alliance”

Armenia will leave the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told parliament on Wednesday. Yerevan is seeking to improve ties with Western powers amid strained relations with Moscow.

The landlocked Caucasus country was one of the founding members of the CSTO, and has been a part of the military alliance since 1992. However, relations between Yerevan and the bloc have soured over the past year, with Armenia accusing the CSTO of failing to stop its neighbor Azerbaijan from reclaiming the Nagorno-Karabakh region through military force.

Baku effectively took control over the long-disputed region in September 2023, and in February 2024, Pashinyan said his nation had suspended its membership of the CSTO, stating that “in Armenia’s case, the treaty has not been implemented.”

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan speaks at an event in Paris on February 21, 2024.
Armenia ‘suspends’ security pact with Russia

During a question-and-answer session in parliament on Wednesday, Pashinyan once again branded the CSTO a “bubble alliance” and accused some of its members of “plotting a war” against his nation together with Azerbaijan. When further pressed by a lawmaker as to whether Yerevan would quit, the prime minister said: “we will leave.”

The timeline of the withdrawal has yet to be determined, Pashinyan noted, adding: “we will decide when we go out.” The Armenian premier also stated that he did not want to make such an announcement prematurely, and maintained that Yerevan “won’t go back” to full CSTO membership, and that “there is no other way” but to leave.

In early May, Yerevan officially refused to participate in funding the military alliance through 2024. The move drew criticism from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which said all members should maintain “financial discipline” regardless of their desire to “suspend” their membership.

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US and Armenian flags
Russian ally to become ‘strategic partner’ of US

Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region back in 2020, after Azerbaijan reclaimed parts of the area in a brief war with the local Armenian militia. Pashinyan later recognized Baku’s sovereignty over the province, and argued that its loss had long been inevitable.

Wednesday’s statement came a day after the US and Armenia vowed to elevate their bilateral relations to a “strategic partnership.” The two nations issued a joint statement on Tuesday, saying Yerevan sought “closer cooperation with Euro-Atlantic institutions and the West.”

Pashinyan’s government has also made overtures to France for military technology, and reportedly offered his country as a possible destination for asylum seekers turned away by the UK.

In March, Moscow warned of NATO’s desire to get a foothold in the South Caucasus, adding that the bloc’s aspirations would not benefit the region.

June 12, 2024 at 09:10PM

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