Russian President Vladimir Putin touted on Monday a drastic increase in Armenian exports to Russia registered this year, implicitly attributing it to Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
According to Armenian government data, those exports nearly doubled year-on-year to $94.5 million in the first four months of this year after a significant decrease in 2015 resulting from a sharp depreciation of the Russian ruble and a recession in Russia.
Meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian in Saint Petersburg, Putin said Armenian agricultural products generated most of that gain. “We are very happy with that,” he told Sarkisian at the start of their talks. “I hope that this trend will be reinforced in the development of the overall commercial exchange and goods that are sensitive for us.”
“It can be noted that within the framework of integration processes our relations are developing more intensively than they did on a bilateral basis in the past, and that also makes us happy,” he added.
Putin clearly referred to Armenia’s accession to the Russian-led EEU widely seen as being the result of Russian pressure exerted on Yerevan in 2013.
Armenian exports to Russia plummeted by nearly 27 percent in 2015 primarily because of the ruble’s sharp depreciation caused by the collapse of world oil prices. Pro-Western Armenian political figures and commentators have used that sharp drop to back up their assertions that the EEU membership cannot benefit the Armenian economy.
Putin received Sarkisian ahead of their trilateral meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
The Armenian leader focused on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in his opening remarks at the separate meeting with Putin. He did note, though, that Russian-Armenian relations are developing “in all directions.”