Armenia appealed to the CSTO for military aid on September 13 just hours after Azerbaijani forces reportedly attacked many of its border positions. The other CSTO member states effectively declined the request, deciding instead to send to fact-finding missions tasked with studying the situation on the ground and submitting policy recommendations.
Armenian officials criticized the bloc’s reluctance to openly side with Yerevan. News reports claimed that they encouraged pro-Western fringe groups and activists to campaign for the country’s withdrawal from the bloc.
Andranik Kocharian, the pro-government chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on defense and security, made a point of meeting with some of those activists and discussing their demands on Friday.
But in an interview aired later that day, Pashinian gave no indications that Yerevan is seriously considering terminating its membership in the CSTO, which is part of Armenia’s broader military alliance with Russia.
“When they ask whether or not Armenia will leave the CSTO that’s a wrongly worded question,” he told Armenian Public Television. “The [proper] question is whether or not the CSTO will leave Armenia.”
Pashinian demanded that the bloc recognize the “Azerbaijani aggression” and come up with a “roadmap” for eliminating its consequences.
Vigen Khachatrian, another senior lawmaker representing Pashinian’s Civil Contract party, cautioned on Monday that leaving the CSTO would be very risky for not only security but also economic reasons.
“We are not adventurist enough to enthusiastically leave [the CSTO] and think that we are solving an issue only to create seven or eight new ones,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
“In my view, leaving the CSTO now would have even more negative consequences,” agreed Beniamin Poghosian, a political analyst.
Poghosian said that while Armenia’s criticism of the CSTO is justified its exit from the organization would be seen by Russia as a hostile move engineered by the United States and other Western powers. He also noted that Yerevan’s implicit threats to leave the bloc are having no influence on the behavior of the other member states: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.