ABCMEDIA
The Moscow Times: If Armenia does withdraw from the CSTO, one can say that Russia under Putin is withdrawing from the South Caucasus

The Moscow Times: If Armenia does withdraw from the CSTO, one can say that Russia under Putin is withdrawing from the South Caucasus

Russian officials understand that the longer the disagreement between Yerevan and Moscow lasts, the less likely it is that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan will reverse his decision to withdraw from the CSTO, The Moscow Times’s sources said, wishing to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“Armenia’s pullout raises a problem for Russia and the CSTO,” a Russian government official, with close ties to the military, said.

A retired Russian diplomat said that Russia has no other ally in the South Caucasus. Moscow has pinned its hopes on Armenia as a counterweight to NATO member Turkey.

“The Armenian army is experienced and combat-ready. Along with the Russian military base in Gyumri, it is an outpost against NATO member Turkey, which has a strong army standing across the border,” the retired diplomat said.

Beyond statements, Armenia’s leadership is taking concrete, consistent steps to show that its intentions are serious, former CSTO spokesman Vladimir Zainetdinov told The Moscow Times. The unprecedented tensions within the CSTO reflect both the deepening differences between Moscow and Yerevan, as well as the latter’s path toward the West.

“The prime minister doesn’t make these kinds of statements by chance. I see this as [part of] a plan. First Pashinyan enlisted the support of the U.S., then he decided to make a withdrawal statement. Unfortunately, all these steps show that Armenia is starting to halt its activities in the CSTO and is getting closer and closer to the West,” Zainetdinov said.

“If Armenia does withdraw from the CSTO, one can say that Russia under Putin is withdrawing from the South Caucasus. Everything was leading up to this. The question is how Pashinyan will overcome [Armenia’s] economic dependence on Moscow”, the retired diplomat said.

Zainetdinov, for his part, noted that as a CSTO member, Armenia is guaranteed protection from Turkey, which Yerevan will lose if it leaves the organization.

“And who will ensure Armenia’s security? But for the CSTO as a system of collective security in the Eurasian space, Armenia’s withdrawal will also create a problem that will have to be solved somehow,” Zainetdinov said.