Nikol Pashinyan says the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine has distracted it from its peacekeeping duties
3 September 2023
Armenia’s prime minister has accused the Kremlin of failing to defend Armenia against Azerbaijani aggressionpartly because it did not back its war in Ukraine.
Nikol Pashinyan said that the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine has distracted it from its peacekeeping duties and that there is no point in striking security deals with Russia.
“Armenia’s security architecture was 99.999 per cent linked to Russia,” he told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper. “Dependence on just one partner in security matters is a strategic mistake.”
Since a war in 2020, Russian soldiers have been deployed as peacekeepers between Azerbaijani and Armenia forces but Mr Pashinyan has accused them of being disinterested in stopping rising tension.
Armenia has traditionally maintained strong ties with the Kremlin and looked to it for military support. It hosts one of the Kremlin’s largest overseas bases.
Not enough Armenian support for Russia
Mr Pashinyan’s frustrations with the Kremlin are typical for leaders of ex-Soviet countries in the South Caucasus and Central Asia whose economies, militaries and societies are tightly entwined with Russia.
The Kremlin has pressured them to back its war in Ukraine and reacted with trade boycotts and threats when they haven’t.
And although Mr Pashinyan has been careful not to criticise the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine and Armenian companies have helped Russian companies skirt Western sanctions, he said this was not enough for Russia.
“In Russia, they do not consider Armenia to be pro-Russia enough because Armenia does not provide enough assistance to them in the Ukrainian issue,” he said.
Mr Pashinyan also said that the Kremlin had lost interest in the region and was planning to leave. The Kremlin has withdrawn soldiers from Armenia to deploy to Ukraine.
This year, Armenia has cut arms deals with Russia and started buying more weapons from India. It has also hinted it wants to leave the Russia-dominated CSTO security group.