Yuri Khachaturov, the secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Organization (CSTO), on Friday effectively blamed Azerbaijan for the latest upsurge in ceasefire violations along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
Over the past week the Armenian government and military accused Azerbaijani forces of opening fire at several villages in Armenia’s northern Tavush province close to the border. An Armenian soldier serving there was shot dead earlier this week.
Khachaturov expressed “serious concern” over the escalation, calling for an immediate end to fighting in the “zone of the CSTO’s responsibility.” In a written statement, he warned against any “increase in threats to the security of the Republic of Armenia, a CSTO member state.”
In a clear reference to Baku, Khachaturov also denounced “bellicose rhetoric” which he said is undermining international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The Azerbaijani government did not immediately react to the statement.
Khachaturov, 65 is a retired general who was the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff from 2008-2016. Russia, Armenia and four other ex-Soviet states making up the CSTO appointed him as secretary general of the Russian-led defense pact in April 2017.
The new Armenian government moved to replace Khachaturov as CSTO secretary general after he was charged and nearly arrested in late July in connection with the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan.
Russia strongly criticized the Armenian authorities’ decision to prosecute him. A Kremlin official called it a “colossal blow to the image” of the CSTO.
Following the criticism Khachaturov was allowed to return to Moscow and continue to perform his CSTO duties for the time being. It remains unclear whether Russia, Belarus or Kazakhstan will agree to the appointment of another Armenian secretary general.