Armenia Refuses to Host CSTO Drills on Its Territory

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Nikol Pashinyan said the Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem may consider the exercises a threat, which will affect Armenia’s security. Armenia believes it is inexpedient to host Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) exercises on the territory of the country in 2023, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Tuesday, Jan. 10. “The Armenian Defense Minister has informed the CSTO Joint Staff that, under the current circumstances, we deem it inexpedient to hold CSTO exercises in the Armenian territory. At least this year, such exercises will not take place in Armenia,” the Interfax news agency quoted Pashinyan as saying. According to the prime minister, possible CSTO drills in Armenia could put the region at risk. “We deem the exercise to be inexpedient because it would create a threat to the Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem. They will come, hold the exercise, and then we will be left face to face with this threat,” Pashinyan said, stressing that this is why Armenia demands that the CSTO clarify its zone of responsibility in the region. “This is a fairly new statement by the Armenian Prime Minister, I think that colleagues in the CSTO will be in touch, they will clarify the details of Armenia’s position. In any case, Armenia is our very close ally, we will continue the dialogue, including on those issues that are very sensitive now,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on Pashinyan’s words. The CSTO Indestructible Brotherhood 2023 drills were to be held in Armenia. Pashinyan: Russia’s Presence in Armenia Creates Security Threats. According to Pashinyan, Azerbaijan, during its contacts with Western countries, more and more often “justifies its aggressive actions with fears that Armenia and Russia are preparing joint aggressive actions against Azerbaijan”. Despite the absurdity of these statements, given the war in Ukraine, this thesis is receiving interest from the West, Pashinyan said. “We draw attention of our Russian colleagues to this fact, fixing that with their silence it turns out that Russia’s military presence in Armenia not only cannot guarantee the security of the Republic but, on the contrary, it creates threats to Armenia’s security,” the Prime Minister said. Pashinyan’s criticism of the CSTO for lack of assistance in the conflict with Azerbaijan Back in November, the Armenian prime minister refused to sign the CSTO Collective Security Council declaration and the draft on joint assistance measures for Yerevan. He explained this decision by the lack of “political assessment of Azerbaijani aggression against the territorial integrity of Armenia” on the part of the organization. Yerevan claims that following the escalating conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh on the border between the two countries, Azerbaijan has occupied about 140 square kilometers of Armenian territory. In September 2022, Armenia requested help from the CSTO. At the extraordinary session of the Collective Security Council it was decided to send a mission to Armenia to “assess the situation”. After that, a rally took place in the center of Yerevan, where participants demanded that Armenia withdraw from the CSTO and start negotiations with other allies. In early December Pashinyan said it was unclear to him what kind of assistance the CSTO offered to the republic “in the wake of the invasion of Azerbaijani troops on the territory of the country.”