What stops Armenia from quiting Russian military bloc?

Friday, 14 June 2024 —

This was bound to happen eventually and it finally did.

The Armenian government has confirmed its intention to leave the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a security organisation created by Russia as a sort of anti-NATO.

The historic statement was made in the Armenian parliament on 12 June during a government report.

Read more about Nikol Pashinyan's statement and whether Armenia can ultimately break away from the CSTO in the column by Yurii Panchenko, a European Pravda editor – Cautious break with Russia: What Pashinyan's statement on Armenia's withdrawal from CSTO means.


According to Pashinyan, the crisis in relations with the CSTO arose because "those who formed the alliance, members of which had planned a war against us together with Azerbaijan."

Yurii Panchenko reminds us that Armenia's gradual break with the CSTO has been occurring for at least the past year. However, until now, the Armenian authorities have carefully avoided statements about a full withdrawal from the CSTO.

As explained in Yerevan, the goal of Armenia is to "create a situation where the CSTO itself expels Armenia from its ranks."

"In unofficial conversations, Armenian politicians and experts explain that this strategy is the implementation of persistent recommendations from the West, primarily the United States.

It is argued that until the end of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Armenia should avoid a complete break with Russia at all costs, as this could lead to a new war, and the West would be unable to back Armenia," writes the editor of European Pravda.

The parliamentary session during which Nikol Pashinyan made this statement was closed due to a fight among MPs. And under the parliament building, where the opposition set up tents and announced an indefinite protest on 10 June, there were large-scale clashes between government opponents and the police on the day the prime minister arrived, resulting in dozens of detentions.

So, it is not surprising, the author notes, that the government decided to promptly clarify the prime minister's statement. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan stated that Pashinyan did not announce Armenia's withdrawal from the CSTO.

"He said that we will decide when to leave, but we will not return. That is what was said, no more, no less," said the Armenian minister.

However, if Armenia is carefully avoiding a de jure announcement of its withdrawal from the CSTO, de facto, this exit has been in place, Yurii Panchenko is convinced.

According to him, as a result of a strategic dialogue between the delegations of Armenia and the United States, the parties agreed to raise the level of relations between the countries "to a strategic partnership."

"Once again: The United States agreed to consider a country that is a member of a military organisation positioning itself as an enemy of NATO as a strategic partner," writes the author.

In his view, this somewhat odd status of "no longer with Russia, but not yet with the West" will remain in Armenia at least until the end of the war in Ukraine.

It is possible that Armenia's course towards EU membership, which has been cautiously discussed for several months now, will also be "put on hold."

Panchenko believes that the upcoming parliamentary elections will give a definitive answer as to whether Armenia is exiting both the CSTO and other Russian organisations.

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