Armenian Leader Appears To Edge Away From Putin as Leaders Gather for Photo

Video shared to Twitter on Wednesday appears to show Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan edging away from Russian President Vladimir Putin as the leaders posed for photos.

The footage, posted by Bakhti Nishanov of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), was taken from photo call during a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Yerevan, Armenia.

Nishanov tweeted: "Oh my. Look at the prime minister of Armenia Pashinyan going out of his way to stand as far as possible from Putin. And Putin knows it, too. Insult to the injury, this is at the gathering of the supposedly Russia-led security bloc."

Armenia's prime minister refused to put his name to a draft joint declaration at the CSTO summit and cited the fact that the declaration did not include a statement about neighboring Azerbaijan, which he accused of "aggression" against his nation's territorial integrity.

Another video from the summit, posted by Eastern European media outlet NEXTA, shows Pashinyan at a table with the leaders of the other CSTO countries calling the meeting to a close.

"I am closing the meeting, thank you very much. Thank you very much!" Pashinyan said.

Putin and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko can also be seen at the table and appear to throw their hands up in dismay as the Armenian leader moved to end the summit.

The Russian-led alliance has six members: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Russia.

"It is depressing that Armenia's membership in the CSTO did not deter Azerbaijan from aggressive actions," the prime minister said on Wednesday.

"Right up to today we have not managed to reach a decision on a CSTO response to Azerbaijan's aggression against Armenia. These facts do grave harm to the image of the CSTO both inside our country and outside its borders, and I consider this the main failure of Armenia's chairmanship of the CSTO," he said.

Fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan in September with more than 200 soldiers killed in the worst incident since 2020, when more than 6,000 died in a 44-day war that saw Azerbaijan make territorial gains.

The Armenian government asked the CSTO for assistance at the time, but the group only pledged to send observers.

Pashinyan and Putin met on the sidelines of the CSTO summit on Wednesday despite the fact the Armenian prime minister would not sign the draft declaration.

He also said he had discussed issues related to a tripartite agreement signed by Armenia and Azerbaijan and sponsored by Russia.

"These are very important issues. We should consult on issues that will ensure long-term peace in the region," Pashinyan added.

Putin said of the CSTO summit: "It is rarely possible to reach an agreement on all issues, but overall the work was very intensive and useful."

Russia remains engaged in the ongoing war in Ukraine after Putin's government launched an invasion of the country on February 24.

Newsweek has asked the Armenian government for comment.

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Nikol Pashinyan Seen with Vladimir Putin
From left, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the welcoming ceremony of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit on November 23, 2022, in Yerevan, Armenia. Pashinyan refused to sign a draft declaration at the conference. Getty Images