The Collective Security Treaty Organization, which Armenia is a member of, will provide Armenia with military assistance in case of a real threat to the country’s territorial integrity, said the the group’s Secretary General Stanislav Zas on Thursday.
Zas’ statement, which echoed similar remarks made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggests that the six-member security bloc will not act on its mandate unless Azerbaijan strikes at Armenian proper. Since Artsakh is not recognized as being part of Armenia, then Yerevan will not receive help from its allies.
“When real threats are created for any CSTO member country’s security, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity, then this country is entitled to apply to the CSTO. Thus the inter-state, including emergency consultations mechanisms are activated and the necessary help or assistance is provided to that country in accordance to its request,” Zas said.
Another scenario for CSTO intervention, he said, is in the event of a military attack.
“Aggression against one member state of the CSTO is considered to be an attack on all members, and in that event, based on an application of the country that is under attack the CSTO will provide any kind of assistance, including military,” the CSTO head said. “In such cases the CSTO response regime is initiated.”
However, Armenia’s territory was attacked in July, when Azerbaijan launched a brazen attack on civilian and military targets in the Tavush Province. Last week, the Azerbaijani forces deployed drones on the Armenia’s sovereign territory. Armenia’s Defense Ministry also reported that Turkey’s F-16 plane downed an Armenian fighter jet in Armenia’s airspace over Vardenis.
Zas, however, expressed concern on Thursday about the reported participation of Syrian mercenaries in the fighting against Artsakh, saying that it poses a “challenge” to the Russian-led military alliance.
“It’s hard for me now to judge the scale and organization of militants’ transfer to the Karabakh conflict zone,” CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas told RT. “In all likelihood, it is the case, and militants and mercenaries emerge there.”
“Of course it does not help to normalize relations. It poses a certain challenge to the organization,” Zas said in remarks cited by the TASS news agency.
Russia has always fulfilled, is fulfilling and will continue to fulfill all its obligations to Armenia within the mandates of the CSTO, Putin said in an interview on the Russia-1 television channel on Wednesday.
“As you know, Armenia is a member of the CSTO, and we have certain obligations to Armenia within the framework of this treaty. However, the military operations, which are still ongoing, are not taking place on the territory of Armenia,” Putin said.
“As for Russia’s fulfillment of its obligations within the confines of that treaty, we have always fulfilled, are fulfilling and will continue to fulfill our obligations. As you know, we are in constant, working contact with the Prime Minister of Armenia, and Armenia’s leadership does not have any questions regarding the quality of Russia’s fulfillment of its allied obligations,” Putin said.
In an interview with AFP on Tuesday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that he and his government were confident that Russia would fulfill its obligations under the CSTO mandates.
Putin said the events taking place in Artsakh are of a tragic nature, expressing his concern over the ongoing developments.
“People living in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh are not strangers to us. It’s enough to state that nearly 2 million Azerbaijanis and, according to our calculations, more than 2 million Armenians live in Russia. Many Russian citizens have close, friendly and even kinship ties in both republics,” Putin said in the interview with the Russia-1 television channel.
Putin expressed hope that the conflict will end soon. “Apparently, this is still a long way off, but we and I want to say this again, we urge a ceasefire. This must be done as quickly as possible,” he added.
During a press briefing on Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharove said that Moscow continues its consultations aimed at convening a meeting between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Official Yerevan announced on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan will travel to Moscow on Monday for a previously scheduled official visit. The foreign ministry said that Mnatskanyan would not meet his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, when Azerbaijan is continuing its military attacks on Artsakh. The Kremlin confirmed Mnatskanyan’s scheduled visit, as well as a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Zakharova added that Russia actively continues mediations efforts for an immediate cease fire in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone and the resumption of the peace process both at the national level and on the sidelines of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmanship.
“Different action plans are being developed, one of which is that our side has offered to provide the platform of Moscow for a meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan with the participation of the Minsk Group Co-chairs. Consultations over the time for the possible meeting are underway,’’ Zakharova said referencing an announcement by the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group chairing countries, the United States, Russia and France.
Bayramov was scheduled to meet with the Minsk Group co-chairmen on Thursday in Geneva.