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Armenia-Russia Tension and Caucasus in the Context of the CSTO

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Yevgeny Fedorov, who is a deputy of the United Russia Party, which is in power in Russia, described Armenia as a “geopolitically deadlocked country.” Fedorov made a statement and said that “The power in Armenia was brought to power by the United States of America (USA) during the Orange Revolution process, as in Kyiv. However, the survival of Armenia depends on Russia.”[1] According to Fedorov in the country in question, there is hostility to Russia and this problem should be solved according to Russian laws. Because Armenia is an illegal state structure that has not separated from the Soviet Union by legal means. Therefore, this issue needs to be resolved.[2]

On the other hand, before the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)`s Yerevan summit, on November 22, 2022, many people gathered to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. During the protests, protesters carried written banners which were writing “Russia and the CSTO are enemies, Putin is the murderer!”.[3]

While reaction against Russia`s policies increased among Armenian society, Russian political elites` statements about Yerevan got harsher. Based on this situation lies the inability of Russia and the CSTO to provide the expected support to Armenia in the Second Karabakh War and in the conflicts that took place from time to time after the war.

As a matter of fact, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on 23 November 2022, refused to sign the Final Declaration of the CSTO Summit held in Yerevan and the draft resolution on aid to Yerevan. About this issue, Paşinyan said that “The CSTO did not protect Armenia, which is a member, against Azerbaijan, which is not a part of the organization.”[4] In addition, the Armenian leader stated that the organization had a cumbersome structure, and that quick decision could not be taken:[5]

“During the mass protests in Kazakhstan in January 2022, it took a day for the CSTO to develop a solution that helped stop the riots and prevent the coup. In terms of defending Armenia against Azerbaijan, the CSTO failed. Because the alliance does not fulfil its responsibility.”

In fact, problems between Moscow- Yerevan line are not something new. There is a disagreement that goes back to Pashinyan’s coming to power. Because the main goal of the Prime Minister of Armenia is to make his country a more democratic country by removing it from the influence of Russia and integrating it into the world. On the other hand, Moscow considers this geopolitical orientation as a “betrayal.”

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitri Peskov, who is commenting on Pashinyan’s criticisms and his failure to sign the Final Declaration, said that “Pashinyan has the right to criticize the CSTO’s stance in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflicts; But it is clear that he still needs the organization”.[6]

It is possible to say that Russian- Armenian relations getting worse day by day. Yerevan questioned its membership because of not getting Moscow`s support and trying to make pressure on Russia by doing some explanations. Additionally, Armenia wants to sever its ties with CSTO with these criticisms.

Kremlin, on the other hand, is looking for ways to transform the CSTO into an organization which is a prominent spirit of unity and solidarity. That`s why statements of Pashinyan, which are stating that he does not respect the organization created discomfort in Moscow. In this framework, while Russia looking for a formula for not to lose Armenia, on the other hand, it also preparing for fighting the Pashinyan administration.

At this point, it is possible to argue that Russia is sacrificing the Pashinyan Government. However, Moscow did not develop a policy that would create an alternative to Pashinyan. For this reason, he opens the legitimacy of Armenia to the discussion by giving some messages through politicians like Fedorov. It should be noted that; The main purpose of such thrashes is to put pressure on Pashinyan and thus limit the Armenian leader’s anti-Russian stance.

However, the statement also points out that when Russia’s relations with the former Soviet Union countries deteriorate, it may question the legitimacy of these states. Because Fedorov’s statements about Armenia remind the example of Ukraine. Similarly, during the periods when various discussions regarding the CSTO in Kazakhstan were experienced, threats against Kazakhstan were made on Russian state television. In fact, it was stated in this publication that Kazakhstan is a problem and that this problem will be focused on after Ukraine.

Russia is giving signals about using military power against neighboring countries which Russia does not see the current legitimation as legitimate. But threats caused these countries to get away from Russia and post-Soviet countries are looking for new allies.

Based on all this information, it can be said that Russia’s influence over Armenia has begun to decline. This will bring the development of Moscow’s relations with Baku. However, the fact that the Pashinyan administration is not considered legitimate and opening the way for the Karabakh Clan, known for its closeness to Russia, may harm Baku’s interests in the region.

As a result, the worsening of Armenian-Russian relations opens the future of the CSTO to the discussion. Because Yerevan gave importance to its relations with Washington and Paris at the point of seeking security. This situation seems to lead Russia to seek a new balance and cooperation in the Caucasus region.


[1] ““Вопрос надо решать”: В российской Думе назвали Армению незаконным государством с проявлениями русофобии”, Obozrevatel, https://news.obozrevatel.com/abroad/vopros-nado-reshat-v-rossijskoj-dume-nazvali-armeniyu-nezakonnyim-gosudarstvom-s-proyavleniyami-rusofobii.htm, (Date of Accession: 25.11.2022).

[2] Op. cit.

[3] “В Ереване в преддверии саммита ОДКБ провели антироссийскую акцию: люди вышли с флагами Украины и плакатами “Путин – убийца”. Фото и видео”, Obozrevatel, https://news.obozrevatel.com/abroad/v-erevane-v-preddverii-sammita-odkb-proveli-antirossijskuyu-aktsiyu-lyudi-vyishli-s-flagami-ukrainyi-i-plakatami-putin-ubijtsa-foto-i-video.htm, (Date of Accession: 25.11.2022).

[4] “Пашинян раскритиковал работу ОДКБ и отказался подписывать документы”, Gazeta.Ru, https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2022/11/23/15831991.shtml, (Date of Accession: 25.11.2022).

[5] Op. cit.

[6] “«Это фиаско»: в Кремле рассказали о разногласиях в ОДКБ”, Biznes Online, https://m.business-gazeta.ru/news/573090, (Date of Accession: 25.11.2022).

Dr. Sabir ASKEROĞLU
Lisans öğrenimini Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde tamamlayan Dr. Sabir Askeroğlu, yüksek lisans derecesini Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda almıştır. Doktora eğitimini İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda tamamlayan Dr. Askeroğlu, çeşitli düşünce kuruluşlarında görev yapmıştır. Başlıca ilgi alanları, Avrasya çalışmaları ve Rus dış politikası olan Dr. Askeroğlu, iyi derecede Rusça ve İngilizce bilmektedir.