Could Armenia Suspend the CSTO Membership?

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A commission under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States (US) House of Representatives, visited Yerevan on 18 September 2022. The program of the visit included the meetings with the top political leaders about the security problems of Armenia. In her statement, Pelosi has indicated that a commission of Congress has come to Yerevan to understand what Armenia expects from the US on economics and security. According to her, in the context of the visit, the cooperation of defence is evaluated. Pelosi has highlighted that the US is undertaking to solve the dispute in Karabakh.[1]

The visit was realized under the shadow of the disappointment of Armenia on the allies of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Right after the beginning of border conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia on 13-14 September 2022, when tens of soldiers lost their lives, Yerevan has demanded the operation of the Article 4 of the CSTO Treaty, including military aid, to provide “territorial integrity of the country.”

Due to the call, the alliance has decided to send a mission to evaluate the situation in the field. The pioneer group of the mission went to Yerevan even though the sides have achieved to make a ceasefire. It is indicated that Secretary General of the CSTO Stanislav Zas will visit the region a week later. Armenia was disappointed due to that kind of approach of the CSTO.

The visit of Pelosi right after the border conflict, has created a mass expectation in the Armenian public, even though the visit was determined to be realized a month ago. At the same time, Pelosi has showed an attitude to increase these expectations. Because, the Speaker of the US House of Representative has made the following comment:[2]

“Today we are choosing between democracy and autocracy from the US to Ukraine, from Taiwan to Armenia, and once again, we are amidst a battle between democracy and autocracy”

With this statement, Pelosi referred that Armenia should choose the US, who represents democracy, not Russia. That kind of comparison of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives has inspired the groups in Armenia. Thus, the comparisons were made between the words of Pelosi and the reaction of the CSTO. President of the Parliament of Armenia Alen Simonyan has expressed the disapprobation of reaction and activity of the CSTO to the call of Armenia in the context of border disputes with Azerbaijan, and he indicated that they expected a more critical support from Russia. The explanation of Simonyan is in the following:[3]

“Of course, we are dissatisfied… We could not explain to the public why and what the CSTO did not realize for a long time. And of course, we conclude a result, as we already have done.”

In addition, Simonyan has expressed that Armenia is waiting the exact time to leave the CSTO, by saying “Timing is not correct to react immediately today.”[4]

In his interviews to various media organizations, Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan he said that Yerevan is dissatisfied due to the CSTO did not react to Azerbaijan. Grigoryan evaluated the incidents as in the following:[5]

“The CSTO did not realize the expectations of Yerevan… The CSTO should think the issue of Armenia suspending the membership of the CSTO. Yerevan believed that the CSTO is working appropriately; however, our hopes towards that have gone.”

On the other hand, Simonyan has explained that the US has a strategic position in the economics and politics of Armenia, and played a significant role on providing ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan,[6] and asserted that the US is the determinant power in the resolution of the Karabakh Issue, not Russia.

In sum, it is observed that the CSTO is digressing from Armenia, and Yerevan is digressing from the CSTO. The alliance cared about having a distance with the incidents, when the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalates. Thusly, in 2020, when the conflicts have started in Karabakh, the CSTO has indicated that the war continues outside the Armenia, and that’s why it will not intervene the process. In other words, the alliance indicates that it will not intervene with the border disputes when the tensions within Azerbaijan and Armenia increase. Thusly, Chief of the Joint Staff of the CSTO Anatoly Sidorov has continued the same attitude before arriving Armenia, which he visited due to the conflicts, by explaining any military troop will be sent to this country.

In the explanation, Sidorov has indicated that the CSTO Presidents has declared unanimously the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan must be solved through political and diplomatic ways, and any power use, even intervention of CSTO is not on the agenda. And soon, that kind of incident will not happen.[7]

In fact, the relations of the CSTO-Armenia are not developed under the shadow of the relationship of Russia-Armenia. Kazakhstan, one of the members of the organization, clearly expressed that it will not send its soldiers to the conflict area. For instance, member of the Kazakhstan Assembly Defense and Security Committee Aydos Sarım said that Kazakhstan is not interested sending soldiers to the field after the demand of military aid of Yerevan to the CSTO. In addition, Sarım has expressed that Kazakhstan will not support Armenia, in the course of harming the relations with Azerbaijan. Also, he indicated that public opinion of Kazakhstan is inclined towards supporting Azerbaijan.[8]

Russia also cares about the relations with Azerbaijan more than the relations with Armenia. According to Moscow, President of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan needs Russia when the conflicts take place with Azerbaijan and tries to use the influence of Kremlin in the region accordingly with his interests. However, in the situation where there is not a security risks towards Armenia, Pashinyan administration is in the search for alternative strategic partners. Moscow realizes this situation indeed. Because Armenia aims to develop the relations especially with the US and France and searches for the ways for decreasing dependency to Russia. That’s why, Russia perceives Azerbaijan as a prominent actor in Caucasia. Therefore, it is possible to say the US supporting Armenia and criticizing Azerbaijan on the Karabakh issue, will bring Baku closer to Moscow.

On the other hand, the CSTO members such as Russia and Kazakhstan leaving unanswered the demands of Armenia causes Yerevan to believe that the CSTO is an organization losing its functionality. That means, Armenia loses its trust to the organization politically. However, until a concrete alternative to the organization and Russia was found, it will abstain from making radical decisions. In other words, if Armenia has an alternative ally in the course of time, it would mean ending relations with the CSTO. Pelosi’s indication of there will be talks about the security and defence cooperation between the US and Armenia can be interpreted as a preparation for the background of the mentioned situation.

As a result, the US demands that Pashinyan Government stays in power in Armenia and the country reapproaches towards the West. Pelosi’s visit should be noted as an event reflecting this expectation. Definitely, continuing support of the US to Armenia would cause Yerevan to diverge from the CSTO. However, if Armenia accelerates its rapprochement with the West, Russia, the main actor of the CSTO, may gradually abandon its obligation to ensure Armenia’s security.

[1] “Пелоси заявила, что хочет понять ожидания Армении от США”, Ria Novosti,, (Date of Accession: 19.09.2022).

[2] “Пелоси: От США до Украины, Тайваня и Армении мир стоит перед выбором между демократией и автократией”, Panorama,, (Date of Accession: 19.09.2022).

[3] “В Ереване заявили, что ожидали более значимой поддержки от РФ”, İnterfax,, (Date of Accession: 19.09.2022).

[4] Ibid.

[5] “«Этой надежды больше нет»-Армен Григорян о запуске механизмов ОДКБ”, Raiyo Azatutyun,, (Date of Accession: 19.09.2022).

[6] “США сыграли большую роль в установлении перемирия между Арменией и Азербайджаном – Ален Симонян”, aysor,,  (Date of Accession: 19.09.2022).

[7]  “ОДКБ пока не планирует отправлять военный контингент в Армению”, İnterfax,, (Date of Accession: 19.09.2022).

[8] “Казахстан отказался вступать в армяно-азербайджанский конфликт под эгидой ОДКБ”, Moskovaskiy Komsomolets,, (Date of Accession: 19.09.2022).

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.