Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan talks to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a European summit in Granada, October 5, 2023.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy Reportedly Planning to Visit Armenia

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By Artak Khulian and Shoghik Glastian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is planning to visit Armenia next week amid the South Caucasus country’s mounting tensions with Russia, a diplomatic source told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on February 26.

The visit will likely take place on March 4, the source said, adding that Zelenskyy will also travel to Azerbaijan.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry pointedly declined to confirm or deny the information, saying only that it informs the public about the visits of foreign leaders “in due course.”

Ukraine’s charge d’affaires in Yerevan, Valeri Lobach, was also coy about the possibility of such a trip. “The spring will bring positive events to Armenia,” he told reporters on Friday.

News of Zelenskyy’s possible trip followed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s recent visits to Germany and France during which he stepped up his criticism of Russia. In particular, Pashinyan for the first time denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying that it violated a December 1991 declaration in which newly independent Soviet republics recognized each other’s Soviet-era borders.

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Lawmakers representing Pashinyan’s ruling Civil Contract party on February 26 gave more indications that the Ukrainian president, who has not visited any non-Baltic ex-Soviet state since the outbreak of the war with Russia, is due in Yerevan.

“After all, the president of Ukraine is the elected leader of his country, and just like other heads of state, he can visit Armenia unless there are some special hurdles,” one of them, Babken Tunian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

“We don’t care about how Russia will or will not react [to Zelenskyy’s visit],” said another pro-government lawmaker, Gagik Melkonian.

There has been no such reaction from Moscow yet. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on February 19 that Russia and Armenia now have “diametrically opposite views” on the war in Ukraine.

Relations between the two long-time allies have further deteriorated in recent months, with the Russian Foreign Ministry accusing Pashinyan of “destroying” them.

Dmitry Suslov, a senior analyst with Russia’s Kremlin-linked Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, told the Sputnik news agency on Monday that Zelenskyy’s visit to Armenia could mark “the point of no return” in the erosion of bilateral ties. Suslov claimed that it would be part of the West’s efforts to reorient Armenia towards the United States and the European Union.

Armenian opposition leaders have expressed serious concern about the far-reaching change in Armenia’s traditional foreign policy, saying that it is reckless in the absence of security guarantees or military aid offered by Western powers.

Pashinyan embarked on the apparent rapprochement with Ukraine last year despite Kyiv’s strong support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

 

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