CSTO Does Not Exist?

On December 29 of 2016, Azerbaijan launched a diversionary infiltration attempt southeast of Chinar village in Tavush region of the Republic of Armenia, and entered into a battle with the Armenian Armed Forces. As a result, at least 3 Armenian servicemen have been killed.

Thus, Azerbaijan has made an attack on the internationally recognized state borders of the Republic of Armenia, which means that this act should be followed by the response of Armenia’s strategic allies, namely Russia and the other CSTO member states: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. However, at the time of writing this article, no such steps were taken by Armenia’s allies though CSTO borders have been attacked. Leaving aside the expected actions by CSTO and, particularly, Russia, or their possible absence, we should note that these provocative actions by Azerbaijan have been preceded by a number of notable events.

The “Iskanders” and Their Effect

As it is known, “Iskander” missile systems obtained from Russia were shown during the military parade dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. It was announced that these will help maintain balance of power in the region and that Armenia is getting a restraining advantage over Azerbaijan thanks to that armament.

However, on December 15, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Rogozin left to Baku on a working visit with a very interesting mission. Namely, Rogozin gave explanations in Baku related to the Armenian “Iskanders”, and, according to media publications, also ensured that these will not be used against Azerbaijan.

Split in the CSTO

The summit of the leaders of CSTO member states in Saint Petersburg on December 26 showed that there are deep problems in that structure which directly touch on Armenia’s interests in a negative way. Armenian representative should have been appointed as CSTO Secretary General since December 2015. That issue was postponed in 2015 due to tense relations between Russia and Turkey.

The issue was raised again during the CSTO Summit in Yerevan in October 2016. However, the appointment did not take place as Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev did not participate in summit in Armenia explaining his absence by his being ill. Note that Nazarbayev is famous for his pro-Azerbaijani position, and later it was revealed that Nazarbayev was not sick at all.  The agenda of the Saint Petersburg summit also contained appointment of the representative from Armenia, which again did not find a solution because of absence of the leader of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (note that Lukashenko visited Azerbaijan in November, where he received warmest welcome).

Combining all this, one can safely state that the appointment of an Armenian representative in the CSTO fails because of Armenia’s contractual partners which have marked pro-Azerbaijani positions.

Joint Group of Forces and Air Defense

During the last few months, the process of creation of a Joint Group of Forces based on the Russian 102nd Military Base in Armenia and 5th Corps of the RA Armed Forces is in full action. It is being announced that Armenia will get additional security guarantees and that Russia will be more “diligently” engaged in ensuring Armenia’s security.

As it is known, earlier Armenia and Russia had signed an agreement on having a joint air defense system, which should also serve to ensure Armenia’s security.


But the last act of diversion by Azerbaijan directly shows that Baku does not care about the CSTO, the Joint Group of Forces, the air defense agreement or Armenia’s allies.

It should be noted that this position of Azerbaijan is not groundless since experience has shown that Baku can attack a state which is member of a defense treaty and be sure that allies of that state will remain silent.

It is difficult to imagine a case in which any country would ever dare to attack a NATO member state. It is “scary”, to say the least, since NATO’s response will be as “fierce” as one could possibly imagine. But in case of CSTO, it is not “scary” at all. Armenia, member state of that defense alliance, is always completely alone when it is forced to respond, protect itself, punish and “scare” its enemy. Hence, numerous questions arise related to the expediency of Armenia’s membership in that alliance, especially taking into account the fact that within the framework of that treaty, Armenia is very often forced to join statements which do not stem from the state interests of the country.

It is worth reminding that “Union of Informed Citizens” has recently published a video related to the CSTO and Armenia’s security.

UPDATE:  Later on CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha made the following statement: “The CSTO Secretariat is deeply concerned about the information received related to the armed incident that took place near Chinari village of the Republic of Armenia. We view these actions in the territory of a CSTO member state as a provocation, especially against the backdrop of quite a grave incident in Nagorno Karabagh this April, during which heavy weaponry was applied”. Thus, it can be said that by making an official statement, the CSTO, however, does not condemn Baku for what happened and is just limited to quite blurred terms. In his statement, Bordyuzha does not speak about assisting Armenia, does not blame Baku and merely expresses a “deep concern”.

Vahe Ghukasyan,
“Union of Informed Citizens”

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