The Russian head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) paid a first-ever visit to Armenian army positions on the border with Azerbaijan on Tuesday more than two months after an upsurge in fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
Accompanied by Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO secretary general, met with Armenian soldiers guarding a section of the border with Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan and inspected their dugouts and fortifications.
Photographs released by the Armenian Defense Ministry showed the two men looking through binoculars towards the Azerbaijani side of the frontier. A ministry statement said an Armenian army general briefed them on the situation in the area and “preemptive actions” taken by his troops against ceasefire violations.
Bordyuzha visited the border section the day after meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian and hearing strong criticism of other ex-Soviet republics aligned in the Russian-led defense pact. Sarkisian claimed that they emboldened Azerbaijan to escalate tensions on in the conflict zone in late July and early August.
Speaking to Armenian pro-government TV channels, Bordyuzha said he is glad that truce violations on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and “line of contact” around Karabakh have declined dramatically since then. He also said that he is visiting the Armenian frontline troops in order to prepare a report on the situation on the ground.
According to the Defense Ministry statement, Ohanian praised Bordyuzha for the on-site inspection, saying that it will help Armenia and the CSTO leadership map out “possible steps dictated by the situation.”
In recent years, the CSTO and its Moscow-based secretariat in particular have been increasingly criticized by Armenian opposition politicians, pundits and media have for not reacting to periodical escalations on the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontlines.