CSTO leaders meeting May, 16, 2022

YEREVAN — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced that he will not be attending the upcoming summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is due to be held in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on November 23.

According to the Armenian premier’s press office, Pashinyan made this known during a phone call with President of Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka reported on Tuesday.

The report said the phone call was initiated by the Belarusian leader. It said that Pashinyan expressed a hope that CSTO partners would take his decision with understanding. No further details have been provided regarding the motivation behind this decision.

This move comes as no surprise as Armenia has repeatedly expressed its discontent with the Russia-led alliance. In September 2022, Armenia called on the CSTO to condemn Azerbaijan’s invasion of its sovereign territory, but its request went unanswered.

Earlier this year, Pashinyan stated during a press conference that Armenia would not host CSTO military exercises in 2023, citing the need for clear assessments from the alliance regarding Azerbaijan’s continuing occupation of chunks of Armenia’s sovereign territories “in order to understand what the area of the CSTO’s responsibility is.”

Furthermore, Armenia has chosen not to fill its quota for the CSTO Deputy Secretary General. Also, after recalling its ambassador from the military alliance Armenia has not appointed a replacement yet.

Pashinyan also declined to attend a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a wider and looser grouping of ex-Soviet states, in Kyrgyzstan on October 13. The secretary of his Security Council, Armen Grigoryan, last week similarly shunned a meeting of his CIS counterparts in Moscow, meeting with a visiting U.S. diplomat instead.

The Kremlin said later on Tuesday that it “regrets” Pashinyan’s latest decision not to attend the upcoming CSTO summit.

“We understand that each head of government or head of state may have his own events in his work schedule, his own circumstances. But one can only express regret, because such meetings are a very good occasion for exchanging opinions, for synchronizing watches,” the Russian president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said as quoted by Russia’s TASS news agency.

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