Delegation from Russian military alliance to arrive in Armenia Thursday

By Mark Dovich

A delegation from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-led military alliance, will arrive in Armenia on Thursday to lead a fact-finding mission, a CSTO spokesperson said Wednesday.

The mission will be led by Anatoly Sidorov, the head of the CSTO’s joint staff, and will “assess the current situation in certain areas of the border…and prepare a detailed report,” the spokesperson, Vladimir Zainetdinov, said.

He added that Stanislav Zas, the alliance’s chief, plans to visit Armenia separately “next week.”

The CSTO had previously said Zas would head the mission himself, but now that appears not to be the case.

Meanwhile, Sidorov told reporters Thursday the CSTO has no plans to send its own peacekeepers to the region, saying, “there is no talk of using military force, not even with CSTO involvement.”

The CSTO’s decision to send a mission to Armenia, a founding member of the alliance, came after an emergency session convened Tuesday at Yerevan’s request.

While Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expressed hope Wednesday the CSTO’s mission to Armenia “should have concrete solutions,” he has also been critical of the alliance at times.

At a CSTO summit in May, Pashinyan called out the alliance’s decision not to respond to an incursion last May by Azerbaijan into parts of Armenia proper, contrasting that with its decisive response to mass civil unrest that shook Kazakhstan, another CSTO member, in January.

He also raised the issue of arms sales by other alliance members to Azerbaijan.

Still, Pashinyan has been careful to temper his criticism of the CSTO with praise, stressing at the same summit that Armenia remains “committed to the organization’s further development.”