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Armenia to Exit Russian-Led CSTO Defense Pact

WorldRussiaArmenia to Exit Russian-Led CSTO Defense Pact

Yerevan, Armenia — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced Armenia’s intent to withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a defense alliance predominantly led by Russia.

This move signifies a significant shift in Armenia’s foreign policy as it seeks to distance itself from Moscow’s sphere of influence and forge closer ties with the West.

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Speaking at a parliamentary session, Pashinyan affirmed the decision, stating, “We will leave when we decide.” He criticized previous Armenian administrations for entangling the nation in what he labeled a “hollow union” and accused CSTO members of conspiring with Azerbaijan to initiate a war against Armenia.

The announcement follows closely on the heels of Armenia and the United States unveiling a new strategic partnership. This collaboration underscores Armenia’s pivot towards the West, reflecting growing discontent with the CSTO and its perceived failures to support Armenia in times of conflict.

A major point of contention has been the CSTO’s inaction during Azerbaijan’s attack on Armenia in 2022. Pashinyan has repeatedly expressed frustration over the alliance’s lack of intervention and has condemned Russian peacekeeping efforts as inadequate during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In response, Armenia had earlier suspended its membership, recalled its representatives from the CSTO, and ceased financial contributions to the organization. Nevertheless, Russia has maintained that Armenia is still required to meet its financial commitments to the CSTO.

The CSTO, established in 1992, includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Armenia. The alliance was designed to ensure mutual defense among former Soviet republics, but Armenia’s experience has exposed cracks in this promise of solidarity.
Pashinyan’s government has actively sought to diversify Armenia’s alliances.

Joint military exercises with US forces have been conducted, appeals for support in fortifying Armenia’s democratic institutions have been made, and there is growing interest in potentially joining the European Union. As part of this strategic realignment, Russian border guards have been withdrawn from Armenia’s frontiers with neighboring countries.

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Despite these moves, analysts like Vasif Huseynov from Azerbaijan’s AIR Center think tank caution that Armenia’s economic dependence on Russia poses a significant hurdle to completely severing ties with Moscow. Russia continues to exert substantial influence over Armenia’s trade, energy, and infrastructure sectors.

The backdrop of Armenia’s decision is marked by rising tensions and a precarious geopolitical landscape. The nation’s leaders are keen to establish a more reliable framework of international support, one that does not leave Armenia vulnerable during critical moments.

This strategic shift also reflects a broader regional trend where former Soviet republics are reevaluating their alliances and seeking partnerships beyond Russia’s orbit.
As Armenia navigates this complex transition, the implications of its departure from the CSTO will resonate beyond its borders.

For the CSTO, the loss of a member could signal waning influence and prompt other member states to reconsider their positions within the alliance. For Armenia, the challenge lies in balancing its historical ties with Russia against its aspirations for a more secure and diversified foreign policy.

Armenia’s move is a bold statement of its intent to forge a new path, seeking stability and security through a broader network of international alliances. The world will be watching closely as this strategic realignment unfolds, reshaping the geopolitical dynamics of the region.

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