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Armenia refuses to host 2023 CSTO joint exercise

Armenia will not host a CSTO joint exercise this year, RIA Novosti cites Nikol Pashinyan, the country’s Prime Minister.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is a military bloc of six post-Soviet states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.

“I believe it’s some sort of misunderstanding here as Armenia’s Defence Ministry has already informed the joint Staff of CSTO that we find hosting exercises in Armenia in the current situation to be unreasonable. This exercise will not be hosted by Armenia, at least this year for sure,” Pashinyan said.

Russia’s Defence Ministry announced earlier that a joint exercise for peacemaking forces would be held in Armenia in 2023. The Russian Ministry has yet to comment on Pashinyan’s words.

Azerbaijan attacked the towns of Goris and Jermuk in Armenia proper on 13 September 2022. Those are not part of Nagorno-Karabakh and are internationally recognised to be Armenian. The hostilities lasted for a few days, and Armenia asked the CSTO for help in restoring its territorial integrity. However, the South Caucasian country received no military help. Shortly afterwards, Armenia saw a series of anti-CSTO rallies, with demonstrants insisting Armenia shout leave the Treaty and find an ally capable of providing actual support.

On 12 December, Azerbaijanis claiming to be “eco-activists” blocked the so-called Lachin corridor, the only road that connects Armenia and the unrecognised Armenian-populated Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). The blockade is held up to this day. Food and medicine supplies remain unavailable to about 120,000 ethnic Armenians in the disputed region.

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According to the trilateral agreements reached following the 2020 Karabakh war, the Lachin corridor “remains under the control of the Russian peacekeeping contingent”, while Baku provided guarantees that the travel along the corridor in both directions would be safe.

Nikol Pashinyan told Vladimir Putin in late December that the Russian peacekeepers were no longer in control over the situation along the Lachin corridor.

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