Armenia refused to host this year’s Russian military exercises: “They are not appropriate”

Russian troops in maneuvers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (Reuters) (PAVEL MIKHEYEV /)

Armenia announced on Tuesday that refuses to host military exercises by a Russian-led alliance in 2023amid discontent with Moscow over the blockade of a vital supply route to the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

Armenia does not consider it appropriate to hold exercises of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CTOS) this year (…) These exercises will not take place”, declared Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at a press conference.

According to Pashinyan, the leaders of this military alliance, which brings together several former Soviet republics, have already been informed of the decision.

Armenia reproaches the CSTO “refusing to condemn the actions of Azerbaijan” and Russia not fulfilling its role as “security guarantor” of Armenia.

“Armenia expected specific actions from its Russian partners and other partners in the field of security. But they told Yerevan that the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan were not delimited,” Pashinyan said.

Armenia accuses the Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno Karabagh of inactionwhile the Azerbaijanis have been blockading the Lachin corridor, a vital supply route to the disputed enclave, for several weeks.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Vladimir Putin in a meeting in Astana (Sputnik/Reuters)
The Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and Vladimir Putin in a meeting in Astana (Sputnik / Reuters) (SPUTNIK /)

“The Russian peacekeeping contingent must ensure the normal operation of the Lachin corridor,” Pashinyan insisted.

Yerevan also criticized Moscow for failing to play its mediating role during violent clashes on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border in September, when the Armenian government had asked the CSTO, of which it is a member, for help.

Asked about Pashinyan’s criticisms, the Kremlin tried to calm things down and stated that “Armenia is a very close ally” with which Russia “will continue the dialogue, including on sensitive issues.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow would ask Yerevan to clarify its position. “In any case, Armenia is our closest ally and we will continue to talk, even on the most complex issues,” he told reporters.

The corridor blockade has left Russia in a precarious position. Armenia is home to a Russian military base, and Moscow has been the country’s main ally and patron. But the Kremlin has also tried to maintain warm ties with oil-rich Azerbaijan. Western sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have made Russia increasingly dependent on Azerbaijan’s main ally, Turkey.

With its attention focused on the fighting in Ukraine, Russia has taken a wait-and-see attitude on the blockade of the Lachin corridor, angering Armenia.

“Russia’s military presence in Armenia not only does not guarantee its security, but poses threats to the security of Armenia,” Pashinyan said on Tuesday.

Nagorno-Karabakh It is located in Azerbaijan but has been controlled by Yerevan-backed Armenian forces since the end of a 1994 separatist war. That conflict left in Armenian hands not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself, but large tracts of the surrounding lands.

A view shows the town of Taghavard in the Nagorno-Karabakh region (Reuters/file)
A view shows the town of Taghavard in the Nagorno-Karabakh region (Reuters/file) (ARTEM MIKRYUKOV/)

Arzerbaijan and Armenia fought a six-week war for control of the majority Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.

The conflict claimed more than 6,500 lives and ended in a Russian-brokered truce in which Yerevan ceded territories it had controlled for decades and Moscow sent peacekeepers to Karabakh.

Turkey, Azerbaijan’s main arms supplier, backed Baku in the conflict. Despite the end of the fighting, tensions persist around its borders.

In May 2021, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of violating its territorial integrity and moving troops into its territory.

(With information from AFP and EFE)

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