(AP) - President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday congratulated Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian on his country's independence day, underlying Russia's strong ties with its staunch ally in the volatile Caucasus region.
"It is good that Russian-Armenian relations, which are dynamic and wide-ranging, have become a major factor of stability and security in the region," Putin told Kocharian in a letter posted on the Kremlin Web site.
While many other ex-Soviet nations are looking increasingly toward closer integration into Western structures, Armenia has remained loyal to Russia. It hosts a Russian military base, which has become even more important for Moscow after neighboring Georgia pushed for the withdrawal of Russian troops.
Russia's energy monopoly Unified Energy Systems controls Armenia's only nuclear plant and manages Armenia's national grid company. Armenia also depends on Russia for natural gas supplies.