June 13, 2024 - 14:17 AMT
Armenia will leave Russian-led military bloc, says Pashinyan

Armenia will leave the Russian-led Collective Security Organization (CSTO), Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday, June 12, without giving any dates.

Pashinyan denounced the CSTO as a “bubble alliance” whose members helped Azerbaijan prepare for the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh when he spoke during the Armenian government’s question-and-answer session in the parliament, RFE/RL’s Armenian service reports.

When asked by an opposition lawmaker why he is not pulling Armenia out of the alliance, he said: “We will leave. Are you scaring me with that?”

“We will decide when to leave. What do you think is our next step? How can we go back? There is no other way,” added Pashinyan.

Pashinyan announced the effective suspension of Armenia’s membership in the CSTO in February before threatening to leave it altogether. Late last month, he also claimed that two CSTO member states supported Azerbaijan before and during the 2020 war. He is believed to have to referred to Russia and Belarus.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikahil Galuzin warned last week that Yerevan could ruin its military ties with Moscow if it withdraws from the CSTO and continues drifting towards the West.

Armenia officially asked Russia and other CSTO member states for support after Azerbaijan’s offensive military operations launched along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in September 2022. It has repeatedly accused them of ignoring the request. Moscow denies that.

Pashinyan also said he will never visit Belarus as long as Alexander Lukashenko is the leader of the country.

“One of the CSTO members states that participated in the preparation of the 44-day war (in Karabakh), encouraged, believed and wished for the victory of Azerbaijan. And after that, should I discuss some issues with the President of Belarus within the CSTO?” Pashinyan said.

He noted that he will be have to work with Belarus within the CIS and the EAEU.

“But I want to declare that I will never visit Belarus again as long as Alexander Lukashenko is the president there. Also, from now on, not a single official representative of Armenia will visit Belarus. In general,” said the Armenian prime minister. He stated that in relations within the CSTO, “theoretically, changes cannot be ruled out if, for example, Belarus itself decides to leave the CSTO or Lukashenko utters words of apology that will be acceptable to the Armenian people.”