YEREVAN — Armenia asked the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on Thursday to take action against what it described as Azerbaijani incursions into its territory, saying that they could reignite fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan cited the “explosive situation” in Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province where Azerbaijani troops reportedly advanced several kilometers into Armenian territory early on Wednesday and refused to pull back.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said later on Thursday that Azerbaijani forces also breached two other sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. It said Armenian army units deployed there stopped their advances and demanded their immediate withdrawal to the Azerbaijani side of the frontier.
Speaking at an emergency session of his Security Council, Pashinyan stated that a total of about 250 Azerbaijani soldiers currently remain within Armenia’s internationally recognized borders. He said that they are using “false maps” to lay claim to that territory.
Pashinyan suggested that Azerbaijan’s actions may be aimed at “provoking an armed clash” with Armenia six months after a Russian-brokered agreement stopped the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. He noted that the Azerbaijani military is scheduled to start large-scale exercises on Sunday and pointed to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s recent threats to forcibly open a “corridor” connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Syunik.
Pashinyan instructed his defense and foreign ministers to ask the CSTO to invoke Article 2 of its founding treaty which commits the bloc to discussing a collective response to grave security threats facing its member states. This is necessary for “preventing a further escalation of the situation and protecting the territorial integrity, stability and sovereignty of the Republic of Armenia,” added the prime minister.
Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian and Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunyan spoke with CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas later in the day. A CSTO spokesman said afterwards that the Russian-led bloc is “closely monitoring the situation in border area of Syunik” and will take measures envisaged by the CSTO treaty “if need be.”
Armenia is a member of the CSTO along with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Its permanent representative to the CSTO, Viktor Biyagov, presented the latest developments on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border at a meeting of the bloc’s Moscow-based Permanent Council held on Thursday.
Harutiunyan and Ayvazian had separate phone calls with their Russian counterparts, Sergei Shoigu and Sergei Lavrov, on Wednesday.
Lavrov phoned Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on Thursday. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, they discussed the “escalation of the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.”
A ministry statement said Lavrov stressed the need for both sides to strictly comply with the ceasefire regime and other provisions of the Russian-mediated truce accord. He also called for “resolving all such incidents by solely politico-diplomatic means.”