Putin reacts as Pashinyan refuses to sign CSTO declaration
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Tensions quickly flared up at a Russian-led summit as Vladimir Putin refused to support its ally Armenia in its conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan. In response, Armenia’s Prime Minister did not sign the final declaration of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO military alliance), snubbing both the Russian leader and Belarus’ strongman Alexander Lukashenko. The two dictators were left reeling, as they were unable to get Armenia on board amid dwindling support for their joint war on Ukraine.
Footage shows Vladimir Putin dropping his pen on the declaration, while Alexander Lukashenko appeared dumbstruck.
Despite the leaders’ apparent attempt at convincing the Armenian leader to sign the paper, a furious Nikol Pashinian refused to even touch it in an apparently raging clash between the three leaders.
Speaking at a CSTO summit in Armenia’s capital on November 23, Mr Pashinian reportedly said it was “depressing that Armenia’s membership in the CSTO has failed to contain Azerbaijani aggression.”
He said this had been “hugely damaging to the CSTO’s image both in our country and abroad.”
Armenia had already request military support in September after deadly clashes broke out between his country and Azerbaijan over territorial sovereignty.
But the CSTO military alliance responded only by sending its secretary-general to the conflict zone and offering to set up a working group to analyse the situation.
Six post-Soviet countries, including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Russia, are part of the NATO-like military alliance.
Similar to Article 5 of the NATO alliance, Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty (CST) establishes that an aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all.
However, Armenia’s Prime Minister said during the meeting his country has been left out by his allies, including Putin’s Russia and Lukashenko’s Belarus.
Pashinian said his country had supported CSTO member Kazakhstan immediately in early January when Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev asked CSTO troops to enter his country following unprecedented anti-government protests.
He said: “Armenia is ending its chairmanship of the CSTO. Although it is an anniversary year [for the CSTO], for Armenia it was not an anniversary year at all. In the last two years, a CSTO member-state has been attacked by Azerbaijan at least three times, and actually, till now, we have not received any reaction from the CSTO regarding Azerbaijan’s aggression, which is a big blow to the CSTO’s image.”
Armenia claimed dozens of square kilometres of its territory had been seized by Azerbaijan during the military conflict in May 2021, in November 2021, and in September this year.
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As a result, Pashinian said he was not ready to sign the draft documents until the joint measures included providing asssitance to Armenia.
He said: “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.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tried to ease tensions, saying the CSTO was a “necessary” organisation whose services were “very much in demand” to resolve regional conflicts.
Vladimir Putin reportedly said the only way Armenia and Azerbaijan could reach peace was through the Russian-sponsored agreement to end hostilities in the region. Russia sent close to 2,000 peacekeeping troops under a 2020 ceasefire deal but has so far been unable to help resolve the outstanding issues.
He said: “We hope that this will eventually pave the way for a peace treaty between Yerevan and Baku.”
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