Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

What is the Moscow-dominated security pact ‘CSTO’?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CSTO, Nagorno Karabakh region

Mains level: Not Much

Central idea: Armenia’s PM accused the Moscow-dominated security alliance Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) of leaving Armenia in the cold amid renewed hostilities with Azerbaijan.

What did Armenia say?

  • Armenia has repeatedly criticized the CSTO for its failure to protect itself.
  • Russia has maintained a delicate diplomatic balancing act between Armenia and Azerbaijan, avoiding any forceful action.

What is CSTO?

  • The CSTO is a Russia-led military alliance of seven former Soviet states that was created in 2002.
  • Current CSTO members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan. Afghanistan and Serbia hold observer status in the CSTO.
  • Its purpose is to ensure the collective defense of any member that faces external aggression.
  • It has been described by political scientists as the Eurasian counterpart of NATO, which has 29 member states, while the CSTO has just six.

Outlined functions of CSTO

  • CSTO supports arms sales, manufacturing, and military training and exercises, making the CSTO the most important multilateral defense organization in the former Soviet Union.
  • Beyond mutual defense, the CSTO also coordinates efforts in fighting the illegal circulation of weapons among member states and has developed law enforcement training for its members in pursuit of these aims.

What does CSTO membership provide?

  • While CSTO membership means that member states are barred from joining other military alliances, limiting, for example, their relationship with NATO.
  • Its members receive discounts, subsidies, and other incentives to buy Russian arms, facilitating military cooperation.
  • Most importantly, membership presumes certain key security assurances – the most significant of which is deterring military aggression by third countries.
  • In the CSTO, aggression against one signatory is perceived as aggression against all.
  • It however remains unclear whether this feature works in practice.

Armenia’s Concerns and Threats

  • The PM emphasizes the threat of escalation along Armenia’s border and in Nagorno-Karabakh, citing increasingly aggressive rhetoric from Azerbaijan.
  • Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan increased in December when Azerbaijani protesters blocked the Lachin corridor, leaving Nagorno-Karabakh residents short of food and basic supplies.

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict


  • Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since a separatist war in 1994.
  • In 2020, Azerbaijani troops routed Armenian forces in six weeks of fighting.
  • They claimed a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh and nearby areas which had been in Armenian hands for nearly two decades.

Back2Basics: NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

  • NATO was established in the aftermath of the Second World War.
  • Its purpose was to secure peace in Europe, to promote cooperation among its members and to guard their freedom – all of this in the context of countering the threat posed at the time by the Soviet Union.
  • It is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949.
  • It sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.
  • Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • NATO has spread a web of partners, namely Egypt, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Finland.

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