An Analysis on Possible Withdrawal of Armenia from the CSTO

Strategic Council Online – Opinion: Last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced in a statement in the parliament his country's intention to withdraw from the collective security pact consisting of several former Soviet states led by Russia. However, the exact time of this action has not yet been determined.

Ali Khansari – researcher of international issues

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was established in 2002 by six countries: Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. According to Article 4 of the treaty, the members of this organization will consider any attack on one of them an attack on all. However, after the conflict and the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the members of this organization did not show any reaction to defend Armenia, and this was the beginning of Armenia’s serious differences with this organization and obviously its most influential member country, Russia.

 

Armenia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization

Armenia’s attitude towards the CSTO and its alliance with Russia has been openly critical since the war with Azerbaijan in the fall of 2020, especially after a short round of fighting in September 2022, when targets in Armenia were attacked Because the members of this organization did not help Armenia. Therefore, Yerevan has practically suspended its activities within the Collective Security Treaty Organization framework. For example, this country has refused to contribute to the organization’s financing. It has declined to participate in its members’ military exercises. However, it has not canceled its membership in this organization due to specific considerations such as receiving Russian weapons at a lower price.

The most important and simple reason for Armenia’s concern about the country’s announcement of its intention to leave this organization is its security concerns and its failure to meet the expectations of this organization and its members, especially Russia.

Another reason is the Pashinyan government’s attempt to change its foreign policy. Turning to the West has now gained more speed in Armenia’s foreign policy, and the authorities of Yerevan are trying to increase their power through economic cooperation and security partnerships with Western countries. As part of this foreign policy shift, an unprecedented Armenia-EU-US summit was held in Brussels on April 5, where Armenia expressed its interest in joining the EU.

 

Consequences of leaving the Collective Security Treaty Organization

At first, the possible withdrawal of Armenia from CSTO will be considered an important geopolitical failure for Russia, which can indirectly weaken the position of this country in other regions. This will show all countries that Russia’s Western rivals (EU and USA) will attract Russia’s traditional allies and use Armenia against this country in the future. Of course, Armenia cannot be sure that its favorite Western countries (France and America) will be more involved in the region, act according to Yerevan’s wishes, and help increase its political and military power.

Russia’s reaction to Armenia’s possible withdrawal can cause a heavy blow to the country’s economy and market. Moscow is Yerevan’s most important business partner and the country’s first supplier of natural gas; therefore, any reaction from the Russian side is considered dangerous for Armenia’s economy.

In addition, the possible withdrawal of Armenia and its too close proximity to Western countries and America will spark the sensitivity of other countries in the region. They will overshadow this country’s relations with the region’s countries.

 

Final word

Although Armenia has announced its intention to withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, it is not yet clear whether it is ready to face its consequences. Therefore, time will determine whether the statement of the Armenian Prime Minister was a political maneuver to gain more support from Western countries and draw Russia’s attention to Armenia’s needs—or whether he really has such an intention!

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