By Mark Trevelyan
LONDON (Reuters) – Armenia’s leader expressed his frustration on Wednesday at the failure of the Russian-led security alliance to help his country in the face of what he called aggression by Azerbaijan.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the summit, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan questioned the effectiveness of the six-nation alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Russia, which dominates the CSTO, has long been the main power broker in the South Caucasus region, which borders Armenia and Azerbaijan with Turkey and Iran, since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
But as Russia grapples with a nine-month war in Ukraine, it risks losing influence in parts of the former Soviet Union, long viewed as its sphere of influence.
In September, fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, killing more than 200 soldiers from both sides.
“It is disappointing that Armenia’s membership in the CSTO did not deter Azerbaijan from aggressive actions,” Pashinyan said.
“Until today, no decision has been made on the CSTO’s response to Azerbaijan’s aggression against Armenia. These facts have seriously damaged the image of the CSTO both inside and outside our country, and I consider it a major failure. Armenia’s chairmanship of the CSTO.”
Armenia sent a direct request for help from the organization in September, only to be met with a promise to send observers. In January, Pashinyan clashed with the alliance’s swift decision to send troops to another member state, Kazakhstan, to help President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev fend off a wave of unrest.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have blamed each other for the worst fighting since 2020 in a 44-day war that has killed more than 6,000 people in a series of territorial gains.
The two countries have been in a decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and controlled by Yerevan’s majority Armenian population.
Russia has sent 1,960 peacekeepers to the region under a 2020 ceasefire agreement, but has made little significant progress in resolving bilateral issues, including border demarcation and the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the ethnic Armenians living there.
Azerbaijan enjoys backing from Turkey, while Belarus Kazakhstan The CSTO, which includes Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as Russia and Armenia, is not a member.
(Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Kevin Liffey)