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To exit CSTO Armenia needs 'strong security guarantees' from West, expert

To exit CSTO Armenia needs 'strong security guarantees' from West, expert Photo: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (GettyImages)

Armenia may decide to withdraw from the CSTO when they receive strong security guarantees from the West. However, this is also linked to Russia's war against Ukraine, says the expert on the South Caucasus at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (Warsaw), Wojciech Wojtasiewicz.

Armenia looks towards the USA

According to Wojtasiewicz, the Armenian authorities have not yet decided how to shape their foreign policy.

"In Yerevan, I often heard that the decision to review relations with Russia is not theirs but Russia's. After Armenians were left face-to-face with Azerbaijan in the Karabakh situation, they wanted to look towards the U.S. and European countries, not participating in the CSTO and CIS meetings. However, they have not explicitly stated an intention to leave these organizations," he noted.

Unofficially, it is said in Yerevan that about a year ago, they talked to American and European politicians about the desire to leave the CSTO. However, the response was that the time had not yet come, and there was a threat of Russia launching a military operation in Armenia.

Armenia has de facto left the CSTO

Similar hints were made in November by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Specifically, when asked about Armenia's continued membership in the CSTO, he said that they would be guided by national interests.

"Our partners in the CSTO must also understand us. If being CSTO members, we cannot receive the necessary assistance and support, and membership is an insurmountable obstacle to receiving assistance from other parties, then we must make decisions based on our interests," he said.

However, many analysts in Armenia emphasize that de facto the country has already left the CSTO, says Wojtasiewicz.

Under what conditions Armenia will leave the CSTO

"For them, reality is more important than official status. I think the Armenian government will decide to leave the CSTO when they receive strong security guarantees from the West. And the West can provide such guarantees only when Russia suffers a defeat in Ukraine. Before that, both the West and Armenia will be very cautious. Most likely, relations with Russia in 2024 will be the same as this year, within the framework of the so-called 'two steps forward, one step back' policy," the expert notes.

This formulation is valid for Armenia's relations with the West as well. Multivectorality is explained, in part, by the Georgian example. When under Mikheil Saakashvili, the course towards Eurointegration was taken, and in 2008, there was Russian aggression in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Currently, Russia plays a significant role in Armenia's foreign policy. Although they do not share common borders, there is a threat that if Yerevan refuses cooperation, Moscow may contribute to the overthrow of the government.

"After the Azerbaijani operation in Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023, anti-government protests took place in Yerevan. There were concerns that if the demonstrations turned into something more significant, Russia would use them to change the government," Wojtasiewicz added.

For more details on what is happening in the Armenia-West-Russia triangle, read the material by RBC-Ukraine.