Armenian PM Holds Talks with Putin Amid Escalating Tensions Between Allies

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid escalating tensions between the two allies. The meeting followed their attendance at a summit of the Moscow-dominated Eurasian Economic Union.

Trim Correspondents
Updated On
New Update

Armenian PM Holds Talks with Putin Amid Escalating Tensions Between Allies

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan embarked on a crucial visit to Moscow on Wednesday, engaging in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin against a backdrop of escalating tensions between the once-close allies. The meeting, which followed a summit of the Eurasian Economic Union, a Moscow-led economic bloc, took place just a day after Putin's glittering inauguration ceremony, marking the beginning of his fifth term at the Kremlin.

As the leaders sat down for discussions, Putin acknowledged the growth in bilateral trade but also alluded to the presence of "some issues concerning security in the region." Pashinyan, whose last visit to Moscow was in December, conceded that "certain issues have piled up since then," hinting at the mounting strain in the relationship between the two countries.

The roots of the current discord can be traced back to September, when Azerbaijan launched a swift military campaign to reclaim the Karabakh region, effectively ending three decades of ethnic Armenian separatists' control over the area. Armenian authorities have leveled accusations against the Russian peacekeepers deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh following the 2020 hostilities, alleging that they failed to prevent Azerbaijan's offensive. Moscow, despite maintaining a military base in Armenia, has refuted these claims, asserting that its troops lacked the mandate to intervene.

Why It Matters:

The deteriorating relationship between Armenia and Russia carries significant implications for the geopolitical landscape of the region. As Armenia seeks to strengthen its ties with the West and distance itself from Moscow's sphere of influence, the Kremlin finds itself grappling with the consequences of its ally's shifting allegiances.

This shift is exemplified by Armenia's recent announcement, coinciding with Pashinyan's visit to Moscow, that it will cease paying fees to the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russia-dominated security pact. Moreover, Armenia had previously suspended its participation in the grouping as Pashinyan sought to bolster ties with the European Union and NATO. Russia's displeasure was further compounded by Armenia's decision to join the International Criminal Court, which last year indicted Putin for alleged war crimes related to the Russian action in Ukraine.

The Kremlin, preoccupied with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine that has stretched into its third year, has openly expressed concern about Yerevan's westward pivot but has attempted to minimize the differences. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged on Tuesday that "there are certain problems in our bilateral relations," while emphasizing the existence of "political will to continue the dialogue."

The outcome of the talks between Pashinyan and Putin will be closely watched by regional actors and international observers alike. The delicate balance of power in the South Caucasus hangs in the balance, with the potential for further shifts and realignments. While Moscow grapples with the challenges posed by its estranged ally, Yerevan must navigate a tightrope, balancing its desire for greater autonomy with the need to maintain stability in a volatile region.

It remains to be seen whether Armenia and Russia can bridge the widening gap and find common ground. The stakes are high, and the reverberations of this diplomatic dance will undoubtedly shape the future of the region and beyond.

Key Takeaways

  • Armenian PM Pashinyan meets Russian President Putin amid escalating tensions between the two allies.
  • Discord stems from Armenia's dissatisfaction with Russian peacekeepers' role in the Karabakh conflict.
  • Armenia seeks to diversify alliances, evidenced by its cessation of fees to a Russia-led security pact.
  • Kremlin expresses concern over Armenia's westward pivot but emphasizes the importance of dialogue.
  • Outcome of talks crucial for regional stability, as Armenia balances autonomy with stability in a volatile region.