Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, left, with President Vladimir Putin in 2018

Armenian PM Prioritizes Closer Ties with Russia

80
0

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.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

The vast majority of Armenian opposition forces, including the formerly pro-Western Bright Armenia Party (LHK), also support closer ties with Russia, saying that is the only realistic way to counter Azerbaijan’s military alliance with Turkey.

LHK leader Edmon Marukyan called last week for the opening of a second Russian military base in Armenia. Marukyan said the base should be stationed in Syunik.

Former President Robert Kocharyan likewise made a case on December 4 for Armenia’s “much deeper integration” with Russia. Kocharyan, who has a cordial rapport with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that only Russia can help his country rearm its armed forces and confront new security challenges in the aftermath of the Karabakh war.

“I am convinced that the further development of multifaceted Russian-Armenian ties meets the fundamental interests of our two brotherly peoples,” Putin said in a New Year and Christmas message to Pashinyan sent earlier this week.

He said that in the course of 2020 Moscow and Yerevan “became fully convinced of the significance of friendly, allied relations between our countries.”

Putin himself has also called for a further deepening of Russian-Armenian relations in New Year and Christmas messages sent to Armenia’s leaders.

“The outgoing year was not an easy one, but we hope that the challenges it brought along will be left behind,” Putin wrote to Pashinyan. “Importantly, we became fully convinced of the significance of friendly, allied relations between our countries.”

“I am convinced that the further development of multifaceted Russian-Armenian ties meets the fundamental interests of our two brotherly peoples and goes in the mainstream of ensuring peace, security and stability in the South Caucasus region,” he said.

“I would like to confirm the commitment to the further development of Russian-Armenian allied cooperation,” read a separate message sent by Putin to President Armen Sarkissian.

 

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: