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6 Oct, 2023 14:42

Russian ally threatens to switch to France

Armenia’s president has revealed that his country is in talks with Paris as it needs a “new military partner”
Russian ally threatens to switch to France

Armenia is eyeing deeper military cooperation with France, President Vahagn Khachaturyan has told media. Yerevan is presently a member of several Moscow-led economic and military blocs.

The Armenian leadership laid the blame on Russia after the ethnic Armenian-led Nagorno-Karabakh separatist region was retaken by Azerbaijan last month. Moscow insisted this week that it did everything it could, pointing out that Yerevan had already recognized Baku’s sovereignty over the area.

Appearing on France 2 TV channel on Thursday, Khachaturyan said that Armenia needed a “new military partner,” adding that France had expressed willingness to “help us, support us to strengthen our defense capabilities.” He noted that negotiations on closer cooperation were already underway, with a view to “stopping Azerbaijan’s ambitions.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna also confirmed to the outlet that she had asked Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu to assess Paris’ ability to provide military aid to Yerevan. The diplomat added that the efforts were meant to avert a “more complicated situation” in the region. She refused, however, to go into further detail.

On September 19, Baku launched what it called a counter-terrorist operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke away from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s.

Baku’s forces retook the region in a matter of days and the enclave’s authorities dissolved themselves on September 28 as part of a ceasefire. That was followed by the exodus of more than 100,000 Armenian civilians – nearly 90% of Karabakh’s estimated population, according to Armenian sources. Yerevan stood on the sidelines during the fighting, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government accusing Moscow of failing to come to Nagorno-Karabakh’s rescue.

Commenting on the developments during the 20th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that Moscow had proposed a compromise to Armenia regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, but that Yerevan chose to “go its own way.

The Russian leader went on to stress that Prime Minister Pashinyan had explicitly recognized Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the region during an EU-hosted meeting in October 2022 in Prague. This effectively paved the way for Baku’s operation a year later, Putin said. He concluded by stating that Armenia “remains our ally.