Armenia To Withdraw From Russia-Led CSTO; Boosts Ties With India & France Amid Azerbaijan Tensions?

Armenia has reportedly withdrawn from the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told France 24 in an interview.

“In our opinion, the agreement on collective security in relation to Armenia was not implemented, especially in 2021-2022, and this can not go unnoticed. We are freezing our participation in this agreement. Let’s see what happens next,” he said.

Armenia has repeatedly accused the CSTO and Moscow of failing to fulfill their obligations. Thus, in January, Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan said that the republic “has no expectations” from the Collective Security Treaty Organization since it did not receive adequate support in September 2022 at the time of “large-scale conflict.”

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan refused to participate in the CSTO summit in Minsk on November 23.

The CSTO includes six states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, speaking about the prospects for Armenia’s participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said that Moscow will continue dialogue with Armenian friends, including the CSTO.

Meanwhile, Armenia has almost doubled its defense acquisitions over the last year. In 2022, the spending was around $700 million to US$800 million, which has now risen to $1.5 billion.

Disappointed by Moscow, Armenia has sought to diversify its defense imports and find new partners after Russia failed to provide the country with ordered weapons worth around US$400 million. The failed arms deal was an additional catalyst in the deteriorating Russia-Armenia ties.

India and France have emerged as key partners of Armenia,

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, during her visit to Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, on October 3, said: “France has given its consent to sign a future contract with Armenia, which will enable the provision of military equipment to Armenia so that Armenia can ensure its defense, it is clear that I cannot elaborate on this issue for now.”

As part of bolstering military ties between the two countries, parliamentarians in France announced sending 50 Bastion armored personnel carriers to Armenia. Although no delivery has been confirmed, the Armenian news site Armenpress reported earlier this week that France had already delivered 24 Bastion armored vehicles.

In one of the deals signed between France and Armenia, the latter is expected to acquire three air defense radar systems from Thales, a French defense company. The two sides also signed a “letter of intent” on the future delivery of Mistral short-range surface-to-air missiles.

PINAKA missile system India Armenia
Enhanced PINAKA rocket, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, in Odisha on November 04, 2020.

A report published in local French media also indicated that France could supply 50 VAB MK3 armored vehicles manufactured by Renault Trucks Defense. It provides armed forces with high-level protection and multi-mission capabilities.

Meanwhile, in 2022, India inked the deal to supply PINAKA multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL), anti-tank munitions, and ammunition worth US $250 million to Armenia; it was seen as New Delhi taking a position in the conflict. It was India’s first export of Pinaka.

As previously reported by EurAsian Times, Armenia also contracted to buy India-developed Zen Anti-Drone System (ZADS), which is a Counter Unmanned Aerial System (CUAS). Armenia is also acquiring Indian Akash surface-to-air missiles, which the Indian army has also inducted to defend its key installations.