Russia-led military bloc sending team to Armenia
OREANDA-NEWS The Collective Security Treaty Organization announced on Tuesday it will send a mission to Armenia to report on the situation in the southern Caucasus and propose solutions to the tensions with Azerbaijan. The mission will be led by CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas of Belarus and include Russian General Anatoly Sidorov, chief of the bloc’s joint staff.
The decision was made at the videoconference of the bloc’s Security Council, convened by Armenia, which currently presides over the CSTO. Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan informed the allies about the overnight border clashes with Azerbaijan. At least 49 Armenians and 50 Azeris were killed in the fighting, which involved heavy artillery and drones, according to the defense ministries in Yerevan and Baku.
Russian President Vladimir Putin informed the allies on the practical steps Moscow has taken to de-escalate the tensions on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The CSTO endorsed the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict “exclusively by political and diplomatic means based on the generally recognized principles of international law” and the Russian-mediated ceasefire in November 2020, the organization said.
Moscow had brokered an end to the 44-day conflict, in which Azerbaijan recaptured a large portion of Nagorno Karabakh, a region predominantly inhabited by ethnic Armenians that seceded from Baku in the 1990s.
While the remaining part of Nagorno Karabakh has been patrolled by Russian peacekeepers and relatively peaceful ever since, Azerbaijan demanded of Armenia in August to fully “demilitarize” the area and threatened a military operation if that does not happen.
Armenia has appealed to the CSTO after Tuesday’s clashes began, but it is not known if Yerevan has officially invoked Article 4, which treats an attack on one member as an attack on all.
The bloc, established in 1994, also includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan were members until 1999 but then withdrew, with Baku and Tbilisi seeking ties to NATO instead. Tashkent rejoined in 2006 only to leave again in 2012.