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Armenia's Prime Minister Declines Attendance at CSTO Summit, Further Strains Relations with Russia

Armenia's Prime Minister Declines Attendance at CSTO Summit, Further Strains Relations with Russia

Armenia's Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, has stirred controversy by announcing his decision to abstain from attending the upcoming Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit scheduled to convene in Minsk, Belarus, on November 23. Pashinyan’s move adds fuel to the ongoing discord between Armenia and the Russia-led alliance, exacerbating strained relations.

Pashinyan conveyed his choice during a recent phone conversation with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, as reported by the Armenian premier’s press office on Tuesday. The phone call, initiated by Lukashenka, became a platform for Pashinyan to express his decision, citing unspecified reasons. The Armenian PM, however, conveyed his hope for understanding from CSTO partners regarding his absence without divulging further details.

This development is not unforeseen, considering Armenia's recurring dissatisfaction with the CSTO's stance. The nation's frustration peaked when the alliance remained silent in response to Armenia's plea for condemnation of Azerbaijan's encroachment on its sovereign territory back in September 2022.

Earlier this year, Pashinyan declared that Armenia would not host CSTO military exercises in 2023. He emphasized the necessity for clear evaluations from the alliance regarding Azerbaijan's occupation of Armenian territories to determine the extent of the CSTO's responsibility.

Armenia's discontent with the CSTO is evident through several strategic moves. The country has refrained from appointing a Deputy Secretary General to fill its quota within the organization and has not named a replacement after recalling its ambassador from the alliance.

Pro-government lawmaker Arman Yeghoyan highlighted Yerevan's long-standing dissatisfaction with the CSTO. "For several years now... we have repeatedly expressed our position on the activities of that organization," Yeghoyan conveyed to reporters.

The growing tension between Armenia and Russia escalated following Azerbaijan's military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh in September, leading to the mass exodus of the region's ethnic Armenian population. Armenia blamed Russian peacekeepers, deployed under a 2020 ceasefire agreement, for failing to protect local Armenians.

Despite the strained relations, Pashinyan has not indicated any intentions to withdraw Armenia from the CSTO or request the removal of Russian troops stationed in the country.

The Kremlin expressed regret over Pashinyan’s decision to abstain from the CSTO summit, emphasizing the importance of such gatherings for exchanging viewpoints and aligning positions. Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian president, reiterated that the CSTO retains its significance, citing the demand for interaction within its framework.

Pashinyan’s absence from the CSTO summit marks a significant turning point in Armenia's relations within the alliance, raising questions about the future dynamics of the country's involvement in this security pact.


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