Security Leader’s Visit Comes as Yerevan has Voiced Growing Unhappiness with CSTO
Stantilav Zas, the Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization—the CSTO—arrived in Armenia on Tuesday leading a delegation that will “assess the situation” following last week’s attack on Armenia’s sovereign territory by Azerbaijani forces.
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin of Russia called on the sides to demonstrate “restraint” and “strictly adhere to the ceasefire agreement,” which stopped the fighting, despite continued tensions on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
The CSTO said in a statement that the objective of Zas’ visit is to assess the situation, prepare a report for leaders of the Russia-led security group’s member-states and develop proposals for de-escalation of tensions on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
“Over the course of the mission, actions related to studying and monitoring the current situation in border regions are planned, as well as meetings with the highest political and military leadership of the Republic of Armenia,” added the CSTO statement.
In his statement, Putin said that measures were being taken through the CSTO to reduce the escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“I want to note that, through the CSTO, measures are being taken over the escalation of the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. A special mission led by the CSTO Secretary General [Chief of CSTO Joint Staff] has been sent to the conflict zone. He was tasked to prepare proposals to the CSTO Security Council based on the results of the monitoring of the situation,” Putin said.
Calling the tensions on the Armenia-Azerbaijan borders a “territorial dispute,” Putin urged the two countries to engage in the delimitation and demarcation process of the borders.
“I want to state that any conflict between the countries close to us is of a serious concern. We call on everyone to exercise restraint, strictly observe the ceasefire and firmly follow the trilateral statements of the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Putin said.
In separate statement on the occasion of Armenia’s Independence anniversary, Putin called Armenia Russia’s “closest friend and strategic ally.”
Zas’ visit to Yerevan comes after another fact-finding mission led by CSTO Chief of Staff Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov, who was briefed on the Azerbaijani attacks, toured the border region and was shown proof of Azerbaijan deliberate targeting the Russian border checkpoint in Syunik.
On the first day of his visit, Sidorov unequivocally said that the CSTO would not be sending peacekeeping forces to Armenia “not now, not tomorrow not ever.”
After the September 13 attacks on its sovereign soil by Azerbaijan, Armenia, a CSTO member-state, appealed to the security body to utilize the organization’s protocols and provided assistance.
On Friday, Armenia’s National Security Chief Armen Grigoryan expressed dissatisfaction about the CSTO’s response, especially since Armenia sent in military forces to Kazakhstan earlier this year. That country had requested, and swiftly received, assistance when anti-government protests turned violent.
Grigoryan told Azatutyun.am’s Armenian Service that Yerevan sought the CSTO’s “military and military-political assistance” that would help it drive Azerbaijani forces out of its territory.
“That was our demand to the CSTO,” Grigoryan said. “Up until now it has not been fulfilled. So in this regard, [the CSTO response] cannot satisfy us.”