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Russia and its regional ally, Armenia, are struggling to maintain good relations after Armenia canceled planned military exercises with Russia, which were to be held under the countries’ Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Armenian Prime Minister announced at a Tuesday press conference, “These exercises will not take place. Armenia does not believe it is expedient to conduct CSTO exercises in the republic this year.”
The war in Ukraine has caused Russia to lose power and influence in the Southern Caucasus region. However, Armenia’s decision to cancel the military drills comes after the CSTO refused to condemn Azerbaijan’s aggression in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020.
While Armenia relied on Russia to intervene on its behalf, Moscow resisted and only sent peace-keeping troops to mediate the conflict, which resulted in a forced Armenian handover of key disputed villages and territory it lost in the 2020 war.
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Pashinyan has gone so far as to specifically refer to the CSTO refusing to officially condemn Azerbaijan in his most recent comments.
The move to cancel the drills is an embarrassment to Russia as Moscow’s defense ministry announced earlier this month that it would be conducting numerous joint exercises under the CSTO umbrella. At least one of the exercises was supposed to be conducted in Armenia, named the “Indestructible Brotherhood-2023” exercises.
Pasyinyan directly criticized Russia in his comments Tuesday, saying, “Russia’s military presence in Armenia not only fails to guarantee its security, but it raises security threats for Armenia.”
Moscow has had to be careful in aligning itself with Armenia as it has a military base in the country, but has also tried to maintain warm relations with Armenia’s oil-rich neighbor, Azerbaijan. The West’s sanctions on Russia since the strat of the Ukraine war have forced Russia to become more dependent on Azerbaijan’s biggest ally, Turkey. Due to its focus being directed to Ukraine, Moscow has had a very lax wait-and-see attitude regarding the Lachin corridor blockade, which has angered Armenia.
Armenian officials have previously stated that Moscow was pressuring it to become closely aligned with the Russia-Belarus ‘Union State.’ Moscow denied the claims.
In a statement from Dmitry Peskov, Moscow responded to the announcement that Armenia was canceling the military exercises by saying, “In any case, Armenia is our close ally, and we will continue our dialogue, including the most complex issues.”
The tensions between the two allies come at a time when Russia needs as many allies as possible, given its war in Ukraine and escalating tensions with the West.
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