YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has announced plans to further deepen Armenia’s relations with Russia, saying that his country needs “new security guarantees” after the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“The very first minutes of 2021 should be the ‘zero point’ for us to usher in the outset of our new national rise,” Pashinyan said in a televised address to the nation aired on New Year’s Eve.
“What do we need for this? First of all, to furnish a new security environment, the most important component of which is the launch of army reforms and the strengthening of relations with our primary security partner, Russia, and the creation, in this context, of new security guarantees,” he said.
Armenia already has close political, economic and military ties with Russia. It hosts a Russian military base and has long received Russian weapons at knockdown prices and even for free.
Moscow also deployed 2,000 peacekeeping troops to Karabakh as part of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the Armenian-Azerbaijani war on November 10. In addition, it dispatched Russian soldiers and border guards to Armenia’s Syunik region southwest of Karabakh to help the Armenian military defend it against possible Azerbaijani attacks.
Pashinyan again praised the Russian peacekeepers, saying that their presence provides “substantial security guarantees” for Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population.