Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian met twice with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Yerevan late on Tuesday for talks which he said will give a boost to Russian-Armenian relations.
The meetings followed a summit of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) held in the Armenian capital earlier in the day.
Putin emphasized the “strategic character” of Russia’s close relationship with Armenia and praised “positive results” of the summit in his opening remarks at the first meeting with Pashinian held in a Yerevan hotel. He pointed to the EEU’s trade agreements with other countries, notably Iran and Singapore.
“You are the one who made utmost efforts for such productive work,” he told Pashinian. “I therefore want to congratulate and thank you.”
The Armenian premier described the meeting as “brilliant.” “Our strategic relations are undergoing dynamic development,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
The two leaders met again at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport before Putin flew back to Moscow at around midnight. In another Facebook post, Pashinian said on Wednesday that their “detailed conversation” there “will give new impetus to Russian-Armenian relations.” He gave no details of the talks.
Putin’s visit to Armenia, the first since the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” that brought Pashinian to power, was officially confirmed only at the end of last week. Some Armenian pro-opposition media outlets and commentators had speculated that he may cancel the trip or avoid bilateral meetings with Pashinian due to the Armenian authorities’ refusal to free Robert Kocharian, a former Armenian president facing corruption and coup charges.
Putin again heaped praise on Kocharian when he congratulated the latter on his 65th birthday anniversary on August 31. He met with Kocharian’s wife Bella shortly before his departure from Yerevan.
In early September the Armenian Migration Service fueled more talk of friction between Moscow and Yerevan after granting asylum to a Russian anti-government activist who moved to Armenia after serving a four-year prison sentence in Russia.
The unprecedented move came almost one month after the Russian authorities refused to extradite Mihran Poghosian, a former senior Armenian official charged with corruption in Armenia. Moscow also refused late last year to extradite Mikael Harutiunian, a former Armenian defense minister wanted by the Armenian authorities on coup charges.