WSJ: Pashinyan sees no advantage in Russian military presence in Armenia

Yerevan sees no advantage in the continued presence of Russian military bases in Armenia, as Moscow failed to live up to its commitment as an ally, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Oct. 25.

Armenia's rival Azerbaijan launched a military offensive last month against the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, achieving full military victory after a day of hostilities.

Moscow failed to dissuade or stop Baku's advance even though Russian "peacekeepers" have been present in the region since the last Karabakh war in 2020. Russia is also Armenia's formal ally, as both countries are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military pact.

The military cooperation between the two nations includes Russian army garrisons in two locations on Armenian territory, as well as an airbase, Reuters said.

"These events have essentially brought us to a decision that we need to diversify our relationships in the security sphere, and we are trying to do that now," Pashinyan said in the interview.

Read also: France agrees to provide military equipment to Armenia

Armenia has been increasingly looking further west for new allies. French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said earlier this week that France agreed to strengthen the Caucasian country's air defense capabilities.

Pashinyan's steps sparked have ire in Russia. An unnamed Russian official told the state news agency TASS that the Armenian leadership is "trying to turn Armenia into Ukraine No. 3... and Pashinyan is taking leaps and bounds along the path of Volodymyr Zelensky."

In his speech in the European Parliament on Oct. 17, the Armenian head of government noted that not only did Yerevan's allies decline to fulfill their security obligations, but they also attempted to "subvert Armenia's democracy and sovereignty." He stopped short of naming a specific country, however.

Yerevan may need more reliable partners soon. Western leadership is reportedly growing worried that Azerbaijan may not satisfy itself with Karabakh and might try to conquer parts of Armenia in the coming months to create a land bridge with Turkey, the Journal said.

Read also: Russia’s ‘peacekeeper’ act crumbles as Azerbaijan overwhelms Nagorno-Karabakh

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