The CTSO summit was another indication that not everything is going well for Putin right now
Vladimir Putin seemed to get a frosty reception from his Armenian ally, Nikol Pashinyan, when they were filmed posing for a photo this week.
The Russian president has already alienated himself from Europe and the US after his invasion of Ukraine earlier this year – and now it seems his military failures are tarnishing his other international relationships, too.
A clip being widely shared on social media caught the moment Pashinyan appeared to leave a deliberately large gap between himself and Putin while lining up for a photo.
Pashinyan seems to engage another leader on the other side of him instead, while Putin is left looking at the large space between them, and talking to no-one.
The two were posing in honour of the Collective Treaty Security Organisation (CTSO), a military alliance between six post-Soviet countries: Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
It’s a mutual defence agreement that was created to replace the USSR’s Red Army, one based on a voluntary involvement.
The clip of Putin seemingly being ignored by some of his only remaining international allies lit up Twitter on Wednesday night.
VIDEO: Nobody wants to be seen standing too close to pariah Putin!pic.twitter.com/onG7OX36cP
— Business Ukraine mag (@Biz_Ukraine_Mag) November 23, 2022
CSTO summit started in Yerevan today.
It looks like that they are trying to stay away from Putin
Maybe he has blood dripping from his hands?
Well, it's brave to take half a step back... pic.twitter.com/JzQhnJJPfV
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) November 23, 2022
When you're the prime-minister of Armenia and don't want to appear to be standing too close to Putin, because he's useless as a guarantor of peace in the South Caucasus and you have to seek aid from the EU. pic.twitter.com/8itwiB5CpY
— Aleksandar Djokic (Александар Джокич) (@polidemitolog) November 23, 2022
However, it is worth noting the two leaders did pose for photos together later, again in a formal capacity.
In a more obvious sign of the Russian president’s plummeting reputation, Putin’s surprise overseas trip attending the crunch summit with his counterparts, held in Armenia, was protested by locals.
As POLITICO noted, hundreds turned out to push back against Putin’s arrival and claimed they wanted “to get out from Russia’s shadow” – and leave the CTSO.
Russia has faced backlash within the organisation too, as it has failed to provide any troops to help resolve a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan which has emerged in the South Caucasus region. Instead, the EU has been providing funding to help support the population while under fire from Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, Putin’s greatest ally, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, is yet to deliver on his promise that Moscow could launch attacks aimed at Ukraine from his country.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also criticised the Russian president when he refused to agree that the Kremlin has sovereignty over the Ukrainian region of Donbas (which Putin officially annexed in September).
It comes after several months of failures from Russia on the war front, as Ukraine has successfully reclaimed much of its land to the south and east – although Moscow continues to bombard the country with missiles ahead of winter.
And, according to one of the top advisers for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the mood is turning against Putin at home too.
Oleksiy Arestovich told reporters on Wednesday: ”[Putin] is very afraid because there is no forgiveness in Russia for tsars who lose wars.
“He is fighting for his life now. If he loses the war, at least in the minds of the Russians, it means the end. The end of him as a political figure. And possibly in the physical sense.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan pose for a group photo