YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Armenia effectively dismissed on Thursday Russia’s latest calls to drop its preconditions for the deployment of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) monitors to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
Russia and other CSTO member states first proposed such a deployment during a summit in Yerevan last November. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan turned down the offer on the grounds that they refused to condemn Azerbaijan’s offensive military operations along the border carried out in September 2022. He gave the same reason for refusing “military-technical assistance” offered by Armenia’s CSTO allies.
Pashinyan and other Armenian officials have repeatedly said since then that the Russian-led military alliance must condemn the Azerbaijani “aggression” before it can launch the monitoring mission.
“The position of the Armenian side regarding the deployment of the CSTO monitoring mission on the international border of Armenia and Azerbaijan has been presented and voiced in different formats and there is no change in this matter at the moment,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Ani Badalian, told Radar.am.
Badalyan made this clear one day after a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official, Mikael Agasandyan, said the CSTO is ready to revisit the issue and “use the organization’s broad capabilities with the maximum benefit for our Armenian friends.”
“We continue to expect a positive response from Yerevan and are ready to resume substantive work on the proposal to deploy a CSTO monitoring mission in the border regions of Armenia as well as other joint measures to help our ally,” he told the RIA Novosti news agency.
Agasandyan claimed in this regard that the West is trying to end Russian presence in the South Caucasus through “economic and political pressure” exerted on Armenia.
“In order to achieve this objective, they are trying to undermine the existing mechanisms of regional security, including those based on the CSTO capabilities. We hope that Yerevan understands this well,” warned the ethnic Armenian diplomat.
Russian officials have chided Yerevan for agreeing to a similar monitoring mission launched by the European Union in February. They claim that the deployment is part of the U.S. and European Union efforts to drive Russia out of the region.
Early this year, the Armenian government also cancelled a CSTO military exercise planned in Armenia and refused to appoint a deputy secretary-general of the military alliance. Pashinyan said afterwards that he will pull his country out of the alliance “if we conclude that the CSTO has left Armenia.” The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, scoffed at his remarks and warned of their potentially “dangerous” consequences.
Armenia’s estrangement from the bloc comprising Russia and five other ex-Soviet states is part of a broader rift between Moscow and Yerevan. On Wednesday, Zakharova lambasted Pashinyan for questioning the continued presence of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh and claiming that Moscow has scaled back its involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks because of the war in Ukraine.
For his part, Pashinyan said on Thursday that the peacekeepers must “clarify” why a food aid convoy sent by the Armenian government last week is still unable to reach Karabakh through Lachin corridor. He pointed to Baku’s claims that it is not blocking traffic through the corridor.