Armenia to boycott meetings of Russia-led alliance after membership freeze -TASS cites PM

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 10:03 AM

TBILISI (Reuters) – Armenia said on Wednesday it would not attend meetings of a Russian-led military alliance and that it had no permanent representation at the bloc under a “de facto freeze” of its membership, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

“The freezing of relations with the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) means Armenia does not have a permanent representative to the CSTO and does not participate in events at the high and top levels,” TASS quoted Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as saying during a parliament session.

Armenia is a member of the CSTO, which also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Belarus.

But Pashinyan has skipped several recent meetings of the bloc, amid a sharp downturn in relations with the alliance’s leading member, Russia. He said last week that Armenia’s membership in the CSTO was “frozen”, without clarifying what such a freeze meant.

TASS quoted Pashinyan as saying that CSTO membership “creates security problems” for Armenia, and that what he called a “de facto” membership freeze could become “de jure” if Yerevan’s concerns were not addressed.

Since coming to power in a 2018 revolution, Pashinyan has deepened Armenia’s ties with Europe and the United States, repeatedly drawing the ire of traditional ally Russia.

Yerevan has repeatedly said that its alliance with Moscow does not stretch to the war in Ukraine, while Pashinyan has accused Russia of seeking to undermine his government.

Armenia accuses Russia of failing to defend it against long-standing rival Azerbaijan, which has drawn closer to Moscow in recent years.

Armenian media on Tuesday reported that the speaker of the country’s parliament, a close ally of Pashinyan, suggested that a contingent of Russian border guards that help patrol Armenia’s frontiers should be withdrawn.

Azerbaijan in September retook the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, prompting an almost total exodus of the territory’s ethnic Armenian population. Russia, which had peacekeepers in the region, did not intervene, angering many in Armenia.

(Reporting by Felix Light; Editing by John Davison)