By Mark Trevelyan
LONDON (Reuters) – Armenia’s leader expressed frustration on Wednesday over the failure of a Russian-led security alliance to help his country in the face of what he called aggression from Azerbaijan.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan questioned the effectiveness of the six-nation alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSO), in opening remarks at a summit watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia, the dominant player in the CSTO, has long been the main power broker in the South Caucasus region, bordering Turkey and Iran, where Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two major wars since the collapse of the Union. Soviet in 1991.
But as Russia fights its nine-month war in Ukraine, it risks losing influence in parts of the former Soviet Union that it has long viewed as its sphere of influence.
Fighting broke out in September between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with both sides saying more than 200 soldiers had been killed.
“It is depressing that Armenia’s membership in the CSTO does not deter Azerbaijan from aggressive actions,” Pashinyan said.
“Until today we have not managed to reach a decision on a CSTO response to Azerbaijan’s aggression against Armenia. These facts seriously damage the image of the CSTO both inside and outside our country, and I consider this to be the main failure. of the Armenian Chairmanship of the CSTO”.
Armenia sent a direct request for assistance from the organization in September, which was fulfilled only with a promise to send observers. Pashinyan contrasted that with the alliance’s quick decision in January to send troops to another member state, Kazakhstan, to help President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev survive a wave of unrest.
Armenia and Azerbaijan blamed each other for the outbreak, the worst eruption of hostilities since 2020, when more than 6,000 people were killed in a 44-day war that saw Azerbaijan win a series of major territorial victories.
The two countries have been squabbling for decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but largely controlled by the largely ethnic Armenian population, with support from Yerevan.
Russia sent 1,960 peacekeeping troops to the area under a 2020 ceasefire agreement, but has made little apparent progress in getting the two sides to resolve issues including border demarcation and the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the ethnic Armenians living there.
Azerbaijan is supported by Turkey and is not a member of the CSTO, which includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as Russia and Armenia.
(Written by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)