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Putin, Pashinian Discuss ‘Regional Problems’


RUSSIA -- Russian President Vladimir Putin (Right) meets Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (Left) in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 27 December 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian bilateral relations and regional security during a telephone conversation on Monday.

The Kremlin reported that the two leaders spoke about the “development of Russian-Armenian cooperation as well as regional problems.” It did not elaborate.

Pashinian’s press office also gave no details in a virtually identical statement on the phone call. “The interlocutors discussed various issues on the agenda of Russian-Armenian allied relations,” it said.

Putin and Pashinian most recently met in Moscow on December 27. The talks focused, among other things, on a new price of Russian natural gas delivered to Armenia.

The two men held further discussions on the issue by phone in the following days. Russia’s Gazprom giant announced a 10 percent rise in its gas price for Armenia on December 31.

Immediately after those talks, Putin sent New Year greetings to Robert Kocharian, a former Armenian president arrested on coup charges on December 7. In August, he phoned Kocharian to congratulate him on his 64th birthday anniversary. A spokeswoman for Putin said the two men “have been maintaining warm relations that are not influenced by any events taking place in Armenia.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had earlier denounced the prosecutions of Kocharian, as well as two retired Armenian generals facing the same charges. The authorities in Yerevan deny any political motives behind the high-profile criminal cases.

Pashinian did not meet with Putin when he again visited Moscow in late January. He was received instead by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The Armenian leader also gave a speech at the Moscow headquarters of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

In its five-year policy program approved by the parliament on February 14, Pashinian’s government’s reaffirmed its commitment to Armenia’s continued membership in the EEU and “strategic alliance” with Russia. The program describes close military ties with Moscow an “important component” of Armenia’s national security doctrine.

On February 8, Armenia deployed 83 medics, demining experts and other noncombat military personnel to Syria. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu thanked Yerevan for the deployment when het with his Armenia counterpart Davit Tonoyan in Moscow on the same day.

For their part, the Russian and Armenian foreign ministers met on February 16 on the sidelines of an international security forum in Munich, Germany. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was reportedly high on the agenda of those talks.

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