Kremlin propagandist Margarita Simonyan has said Armenia’s spat with Russia over a Moscow-led security bloc could see the South Caucasus country no longer exist within half-a-decade.

The editor-in-chief of the Kremlin mouthpiece RT is an ally of Vladimir Putin and a regular guest on state television where she pushes the Russian leader’s rhetoric about his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

During a Q&A at the World Youth Festival in Sirius, in Russia’s Krasnodar region, Simonyan criticized Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. He has suspended Yerevan’s participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is considered Russia’s equivalent to NATO.

Last month, Pashninyan said that the CSTO had failed Armenia, freezing its participation in the bloc because Russia could no longer be relied upon as a reliable defense partner. However, there are no formal moves from Yerevan to withdraw from the alliance. Newsweek has emailed the Armenian Foreign Ministry for comment.

Editor-in chief of RT Margarita Simonyan
Editor-in chief of RT Margarita Simonyan on January 31, 2024 in Moscow, Russia. She told an audience on March 4, 2024 that Armenia may not exist in five years due to the stance towards Moscow…

Getty Images

“Armenia’s youth must understand that Pashinyan is a traitor to the Armenian people and is leading Armenia to complete destruction if he remains in power,” said Simonyan on Monday, to applause from the audience.

Simonyan, who is of Armenian descent and has described herself as both Russian and Armenian, said that, if voters continued to support Pashinyan, “there will be no Armenia in five years—just as there is no longer any Karabakh in the form in which the Armenians needed it,” Simonyan said. “Armenia will not exist at all, you will see.”

There have been repeated clashes between forces from Armenia and Azerbaijan, which last September launched an offensive in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan, and home to a majority ethnic Armenian population.

An Azerbaijani victory was followed by the exodus of almost all the Armenian population, with Yerevan raising concerns about Russia not intervening in the conflict. Baku was accused of ethnic cleansing, which it has denied.

Baku is not in the CSTO. The bloc has an agreement akin to Article 5 of NATO’s North Atlantic Treaty, in which an act of aggression against one signatory is considered an attack on all members.

Olesya Vartanyan, the International Crisis Group’s (ICG) senior analyst for the South Caucasus region, told Newsweek last month that Yerevan freezing CSTO participation has been an issue for the last couple of years. This was the case “especially since Armenia started experiencing increasing problems in terms of its inability to prevent any kind of attacks.”

“Russia has not been able to prevent the continuous attacks that are taking place from the Azerbaijani side at the border; we saw that Russia was inactive,” Vartanyan said.

She added that stepping away from the CSTO would be a huge move politically, “because it will be another ally of Russia that is so dependent on Russia for such a long time and suddenly they’re turning their back while everything is still happening in Ukraine.”

Varuzhan Nersesyan—Armenia’s ambassador to the U.K. and Ireland—previously told Newsweek that “the question is not about Armenia and how Armenia views the CSTO, but rather about the CSTO and how it recognizes its mission towards Armenia.”

On Monday, Simonyan added, “let them (Armenian voters) continue to elect Pashinyan if such a suicidal policy is close to them.”

While the video, which as of Tuesday had received more than 336,000 views, did not show Simonyan saying that Russia would invade the country, Armenia’s economic and military reliance on Moscow could make it vulnerable.

“Putin’s propaganda chief Simonyan makes another statement implying that Armenia is on Putin’s acquisition list,” posted pro-Ukrainian X user Jay in Kyiv. “With US congress now paralyzed, Putin rightly understands there will be no consequences for anything he does.”