A member of Putin's NATO equivalent said it is 'not Russia's ally' in the fight against Ukraine, further splintering the alliance

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during a meeting on the sidelines of an informal summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders at the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia December 27, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Saint Petersburg, Russia December 27, 2022.Sputnik/Alexei Danichev/Kremlin via REUTERS
  • Armenia, a member of the CSTO, said it is "not Russia's ally in the war with Ukraine."

  • The CSTO is Russia's equivalent of NATO, but members have snubbed Putin since its invasion of Ukraine.

  • Experts say the alliance is crumbling as Russia's invasion exacerbated existing tensions.

A member of the alliance that is seen as Russia's equivalent of NATO said it is "not Russia's ally" when it comes to the war in Ukraine, in yet another fracturing of the group.

"We are not Russia's ally in the war with Ukraine. And our feeling from that war, from that conflict, is anxiety because it directly affects all our relationships," Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said, according to Reuters' translation of his comments, made to Czech news outlet CNN Prima News.

Pashinyan also said that Armenia felt trapped in the middle between Russia and the West, which is strongly backing Ukraine.

"In the West they notice that we are Russia's ally ... in Russia they see that we are not their ally in the Ukraine war, and it turns out that we are not anyone's ally in this situation, which means that we are vulnerable," Pashinyan added.

Armenia is a member of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), alongside Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. All were once part of the Soviet Union, and are considered some of Russia's closest allies, particularly as they have close cultural and economic ties to Russia.

But Armenia and other CSTO countries have snubbed Russia and President Vladimir Putin multiple times since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, something that experts told Insider suggests the alliance is crumbling.

Some of those snubs directly related to the Ukraine war, including Kazakhstan denying Russia's request to send troops when the invasion began.

Pashinyan has also previously criticized the effectiveness of the CSTO to Putin's face, and he physically distanced himself from Putin in November at a group photo.

Part of his unhappiness stems from Armenia's conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan, which is not a member of the CSTO. Armenia asked the CSTO for help during border clashes in September, but the alliance only sent its secretary-general and offered to form a working group rather than engaging in a military response.

Pashinyan called the alliance's response "depressing" and said it was "hugely damaging to the CSTO's image both in our country and abroad."

Experts told Insider earlier this year that Russia's invasion of Ukraine had exacerbated tensions that had existed before the war started, and that Armenia was now likely questioning its membership of the alliance.

While the CSTO has an equivalent to the collective defense policy of NATO, where if one member is attacked it's as if all members are, experts told Insider that the actions of Russia in relation to Armenia casts doubt on whether its policy really works.

In response to Pashinyan's latest comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was paying attention to the "important statement," according to Reuters.

"We know that there are certain nuances in Armenia's approach to the conflict over Ukraine," he added. "We take them into account, we know them, but at the same time we continue to develop our allied relations with Armenia."

Read the original article on Business Insider