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Armenia to quit Russia-led CSTO military alliance

June 13, 2024

Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announces withdrawal from the CSTO, accusing members of failing to protect Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. The move signals increasing regional tensions.

Flags of CSTO, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan
Armenia pointed to the CSTO's failure to intervene when Azerbaijani forces took control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh regionImage: Aram Nersesyan/SNA/IMAGO

Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday confirmed that his country would pull out of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), amid a widening rift with Moscow.

The CSTO is a Russia-dominated alliance of former Soviet states that have pledged to protect one another in the event of an attack.

'We won't come back,' Armenian PM declares

"We will leave," Pashinyan said. "We will decide when to leave. We won't come back, there is no other way."

The Armenian leader denounced the CSTO for failing to provide protection, during an address to lawmakers.

Pashinyan accused members of the alliance of siding with Azerbaijan which launched a military campaign in September to seize control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, ending decades of ethnic Armenian separatist rule.

"It turned out that its members failed to fulfill their obligations under the treaty and planned the war against us alongside Azerbaijan," he said, without giving more detail.

Azerbaijan, Armenia on rocky path to peace

Mixed diplomatic signals

Armenia's Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, however, said that Pashinyan hadn't announced a full withdrawal yet.

"Those who assert that the prime minister said that Armenia is withdrawing from the CSTO are mistaken," Mirzoyan said. The Kremlin has yet to respond.

Armenia's ties with Russia have become strained since Moscow refused to intervene in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russia had acted as guarantor of a peace deal that ended a 44-day war with Azerbaijan over the disputed territory three years ago however Azerbaijan's larger army was able to capture the disputed territory.

In February, Armenia joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over his actions in Ukraine.

Putin has avoided visiting ICC member states since then.

Armenia's government is walking geopolitical tightrope: DW's Fanny Facsar

Protests in Yerevan

Domestically, Armenia has seen repeated anti-government protests, with thousands of people rallying outside parliament against land concessions to Azerbaijan.

Dozens of demonstrators were injured in clashes with police on Wednesday

Last month four border villages, seized by Armenia decades ago, were handed back to Baku, which Pashinyan has defended as a measure aimed at securing peace.

The two sides have been negotiating a peace treaty and demarcating their 1,000-kilometer (625-mile) shared border, which is
closed and heavily militarized.

kb/ab (AP, Reuters)