Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 29 November 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
CSTO Summit in Yerevan Was Bitter Pill for Putin
The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Yerevan ended sourly as Armenia refused to sign a draft declaration due to the absence of a political assessment of Azerbaijan’s aggression against the territorial integrity of Armenia. This is yet another sign of Russia’s loosening grip on former Soviet republics.
Six countries – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Russia – comprise the CSTO. The November 23–24 meeting also summed up the results of Armenia’s chairmanship at CSTO. Belarus will be the next to chair the organization, which is highly unpopular in Armenia. Aleksandr Lukashenko has long leaned towards Azerbaijan and recently gained renewed notoriety for calling Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev “our man” and threatening Armenia if it does not sign a peace agreement soon with Azerbaijan. It was announced at the summit that Kazakh politician Imanghali Tasmaghambetov would replace Belarusian politician Stanislau Zas at the post of secretary-general of the CSTO. The 65-year-old Tasmaghambetov, who has been known as one of the most loyal people to Kazakhstan’s former President Nursultan Nazarbaev, used to serve as Kazakhstan’s prime minister, deputy prime minister, mayor of the Kazakh capital, Astana, and the country’s largest city, Almaty. His last official position was ambassador to Russia, the position he held before he announced his retirement in 2019. However, Armenia’s attitude at the summit overshadowed his appointment as the secretary general. Pashinian said during the summit that he was not ready to sign draft documents regarding “joint measures on providing assistance to Armenia” that he said did not address Yerevan’s concerns regarding the CSTO’s political position on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. “Under these conditions, the lack of a clear political assessment of the situation and the failure to make the above decision may not only mean the CSTO’s refusal from allied obligations but may also be interpreted by Azerbaijan as a green light from the CSTO for further aggression against Armenia,” Pashinian said at the summit. Speaking at the CSTO summit in Yerevan, Pashinian called fellow countries to take political action against Azerbaijan’s movements that Yerevan considered aggression. The Armenian prime minister argued other CSTO nations had to persuade Azerbaijan to withdraw troops from Armenia because otherwise “it may mean that the CSTO withdraws from its allied commitments.” The CSTO summit corroborated worsening ties between Russia and Armenia. The meeting was the Russian leader’s first visit to Yerevan since 2019. During his meeting with Putin, Pashinian raised the issue of honoring agreements that Armenia and Azerbaijan have reached through the Russian president’s mediation. In his remarks at the summit, the Russian leader said that a meeting between the leaders of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in Sochi, Russia, on October 31 and their joint statement afterward created “a good basis for future compromises” between Yerevan and Baku. Putin said that only through the consistent implementation of agreements on border delimitation, unblocking of transport links, and solutions to humanitarian problems will it be possible to achieve normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. “We hope that this will eventually pave the way for a peace treaty between Yerevan and Baku,” Putin said.
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