Armenia leaving Russia-led military bloc as part of deal with France, says Moscow-based expert

Armenian Premier Pashinyan spoke to French President Macron in Paris on withdrawal from CSTO 'behind closed doors,' head of Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies tells Anadolu

Elena Teslova  | 23.02.2024 - Update : 26.02.2024
Armenia leaving Russia-led military bloc as part of deal with France, says Moscow-based expert Igor Korotchenko, Director General of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies (Russia)

- Yerevan accusing neighboring Azerbaijan of 'aggressiveness' at instigation of France, which seeks to sanction Baku, says Igor Korotchenko


Remarks by Armenia's prime minister that Yerevan is "freezing" cooperation with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military bloc, are the result of recent agreements with France and the beginning of a turn to several Western nations for military cooperation, according to a Russian political expert.

Speaking to Anadolu, Igor Korotchenko, director general of the Moscow-based Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies said Nikol Pashinyan had discussed the matter of the post-Soviet country leaving the CSTO with French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this month.

"During Pashinyan's visit to Paris on Feb. 10-11, during negotiations with French President Emmanuel Macron, the issue of Armenia's withdrawal from the CSTO was discussed behind closed doors. All Pashinyan is doing now is an action plan agreed with Macron," said Korotchenko.

Pashinyan does not want to make any sudden, sharp movements, but it is quite obvious that Armenia will gradually and steadily increase cooperation with Western countries, including France as one of its leading partners and Armenia's 'guide'," he emphasized.

Korotchenko noted that during Pashinyan's visit to Paris, an agreement was reached between the French intelligence service, the Directorate-General for External Security (DSGE), and the newly formed Armenian intelligence agency on the exchange of data on four countries — Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, and Türkiye on an agreed list of issues. Armenia borders Azerbaijan, Iran, and Türkiye, and is separated from Russia by Georgia to the north.

France will also transmit satellite data to Armenia containing information "on the military and political situation along the perimeter of Armenia's borders," he noted.

"The only thing that is currently keeping Pashinyan from a final break with the CSTO and Russia is the economy, Armenia enjoys a number of serious preferences from Russia, and also enjoys all the advantages of membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, a regional economic bloc," he explained.

It is important for Pashinyan to avoid Russian sanctions, because if that happens, the Armenian economy will suffer heavy losses, Korotchenko added, underlining, however, that the decision to "fall under France" was final and would be implemented consistently.

The expert said Pashinyan's statements accusing Azerbaijan of "aggressiveness" were "pure politics."

"Azerbaijan solved all the issues it wanted, including the transit of goods to Nakhichevan, by signing an appropriate agreement with Iran.

"Armenia's accusations against Azerbaijan are made at the instigation of France, their goal is to demonize Azerbaijan, bring the country under the economic sanctions of a number of EU countries, primarily to create a pretext for France itself to impose them," he said.

In an interview with broadcaster France24, Pashinyan had announced on Thursday that Yerevan suspended its participation in the CSTO.

However, the Kremlin has since said that Yerevan sent the bloc no official notification of the move.

Pashinyan said the CSTO — which consists of six post-Soviet states — has failed to fulfill its objectives "as far as Armenia is concerned, particularly in 2021 and 2022. And we could not let that happen without taking notice."

The other former Soviet members of the alliance are Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.

During a war in the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated most of the Karabakh region from nearly three decades of Armenian occupation. The conflict ended with a Russian-brokered peace agreement, opening the door to normalization between the two neighboring countries.

The Armenian military occupied in 1991 the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Later last September, Baku initiated an "anti-terrorism operation" in Karabakh to establish "constitutional order," after which remaining separatist forces in the region surrendered.

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