Armenia counts on Russia’s support in its ongoing efforts to counter a serious threat to its national security emanating from neighboring Turkey, a senior Armenian official said over the weekend.
Armen Grigorian, the secretary of the Armenian government’s Security Council, reaffirmed Yerevan’s serious concerns over Turkey’s vehement support for Azerbaijan shown during and after recent deadly clashes on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
“Seeing that Azerbaijan is unable to keep the situation under control on its own, Turkey is trying to intervene,” Grigorian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I think that this poses a serious threat to the region. It is also a challenge to the regional security architecture. The regional security architecture has long been unchanged. Turkey is now trying to change it through its intervention.”
“We are fully prepared and will take steps to minimize this [threat.]” he said. “We also have a lot of work to do in this direction with our strategic ally Russia in order to prevent such changes in the region.”
Asked about Moscow’s reaction to the Armenian concerns, Grigorian said: “The July incidents [on the border] coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, and we have not yet been able to discuss the issue at a higher level. But these issues are on the agenda because they are about challenges facing the region and we need a common response to these challenges.”
Ankara has blamed Yerevan for the fighting that broke out at a western section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on July 12 and vowed to boost Turkish military support for Baku. In what appears to be a related development, Turkish and Azerbaijani troops began on July 29 joint military exercises in various parts of Azerbaijan.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry expressed concern at the exercises before the Armenian military put some of its forces on high alert. Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan said on July 28 that Armenian army units as well as a Russian-Armenian military contingent are “continuing to constantly monitor and analyze” Turkish-Azerbaijani military activities “with all reconnaissance means” at their disposal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani flare-up during a phone conversation on July 27. According to the Kremlin, Putin “stressed the importance of preventing any steps that could cause an escalation in tensions.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov similarly urged the Turks to exercise restraint.
Russia is allied to Armenia and has thousands of troops stationed in the South Caucasus state.