Armenian PM Defends Deepening Ties with West Amid Russia Tensions

Armenian PM defends closer ties with US, EU amid tensions with Russia. Seeks to diversify partnerships after 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. EU, US offer economic, military aid to promote stability in the Caucasus.

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Nitish Verma
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Armenian PM Defends Deepening Ties with West Amid Russia Tensions

Armenian PM Defends Deepening Ties with West Amid Russia Tensions

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has defended his country's efforts to strengthen ties with the United States and European Union, even as tensions rise with traditional ally Russia. The move comes as Armenia seeks to diversify its international partnerships following its defeat in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan.

In a trilateral meeting in Brussels with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Pashinyan discussed expanding economic and security cooperation. The U.S. has offered significant military assistance to Armenia, including joint exercises and armored ambulances. Ambassador Lynne Tracy emphasized this is not aimed at severing Armenia's ties with Russia, but to help Armenia broaden its international engagement.

Russia and Azerbaijan have reacted negatively to the EU-US aid package. However, Pashinyan sought to reassure Moscow that the enhanced Western ties are not targeted against Armenia's regional relations. The final communique from the Brussels meeting focused on supporting Armenia's economic stability and resilience, which could also contribute to the peace process with Azerbaijan.

Discussions also covered integrating Armenia into a regional trade corridor and potential new preferential trade agreements with the EU, despite Armenia's membership in the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. France has deepened military cooperation with Armenia as well, providing equipment and discussing missile sales.

Why this matters: Armenia's pivot toward the West risks straining its longstanding alliance with Russia, which could respond with economic sanctions or other pressure. The EU and U.S. engagement aims to pull Armenia out of Moscow's orbit and promote stability in the Caucasus region, which has seen renewed fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The outcome could reshape the geopolitical balance in this strategically important area.

Pashinyan acknowledged that deepening ties with the West may invite Russian countermeasures, a topic likely discussed during the Brussels talks. The EU has announced €270 million in investments over four years to bolster Armenia's economy and Western alignment. "We are ready to further develop and bolster the agenda of Armenia-EU bilateral relations," Pashinyan said, while vowing to maintain a "balanced and constructive" foreign policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Armenia seeks to diversify international partnerships after 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
  • US and EU offer military assistance and economic aid to strengthen ties with Armenia.
  • Armenia's pivot to the West risks straining its alliance with Russia, which may retaliate.
  • EU and US aim to pull Armenia out of Moscow's orbit and promote stability in the Caucasus.
  • Armenia vows to maintain a "balanced and constructive" foreign policy amid growing Western ties.