Pashinyan May Skip CSTO Summit

Pashinyan May Skip CSTO Summit

The Armenian government signaled on Thursday that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan may skip an upcoming summit of the leaders of Russia and other ex-Soviet states making up the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanian said that Pashinyan has not yet decided whether to attend the summit that will place in Minsk on November 23. “When the decision is made the public will be informed about it,” he told the press

“In theory, Armenia may and may not participate in it,” Kostanian said when asked about the possibility of a summit boycott.

Pashinyan 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 Grigorian, on Wednesday similarly shunned a meeting of his CIS counterparts in Moscow and met with a visiting U.S. diplomat instead.

Earlier this year, Armenia also refused to participate in CSTO military exercises and boycotted a meeting of the defense ministers of the Russian-led alliance.

Armenia’s relationship with the CSTO and its key member, Russia, has steadily deteriorated in the last few years, with Yerevan increasingly complaining about a lack of support from its allies in the conflict with Azerbaijan. The tensions between Yerevan and Moscow rose further after Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Russian Foreign Ministry last week accused Pashinyan’s administration of systematically “destroying” Russian-Armenian relations.

Despite the deepening rift, Pashinyan has so far announced no plans to pull his country out of the CSTO or demand the withdrawal of Russian troops.