Membership in a Russian-led military alliance of seven former Soviet republics is becoming an even more important element of Armenia’s defense doctrine, the secretary of Armenian National Security Council said on Monday.
“The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is rapidly developing and Armenia, as a CSTO member state, is actively involved in this process,” said Artur Baghdasarian. “We plan to strengthen the CSTO’s role as one of the most important components of ensuring our country’s security.”
Baghdasarian gave few details of greater Armenian reliance on the CSTO as he spoke at a joint news conference with Nikolay Bordyuzha, the bloc’s visiting secretary general. Bordyuzha arrived in Yerevan to discuss with Armenian officials a new CSTO strategy drawn up by his Moscow-based office.
Bordyuzha said the document will clarify the CSTO’s mission and the obligations of its member states as well as regulate joint military operations by their armed forces. It will also ascertain whether Russia can use nuclear weapons to protect its ex-Soviet allies “in extraordinary circumstances,” he said.
The presidents of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan already agreed last year that their troops acting within the CSTO framework can interfere in a member state beset by serious unrest. Bordyuzha assured journalists last month that the Russian-led alliance is not assuming “gendarmerie functions” to help member governments crack down on the opposition.
The CSTO set up in 2009 Collective Operational Reaction Forces (CORF) tasked with countering security threats to the bloc. Armenia is due to host CORF exercises in October.
The deepening Armenian involvement in the CSTO announced by Baghdasarian comes amid growing ties between Yerevan and NATO. President Serzh Sarkisian highlighted them when he visited the NATO headquarters in Brussels last week.