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Armenia Turns To Russia For Assistance As Karabakh Fighting Rages On


Armenia -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Yerevan, October 1, 2019.

Armenia is a member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization and hosts a Russian military base in Gyumri.

Invoking a 1997 treaty with Russia Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on October 31 formally asked Russian President Vladimir Putin “to define types and amount of assistance” that Moscow can provide to Armenia, saying that the fighting with Azerbaijan that broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh last month is nearing the country’s frontiers.

According to Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a letter sent to Putin Pashinian presented in detail the current situation and challenges created by the “Azerbaijani-Turkish military aggression” against Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian leader particularly emphasized the deployment in the conflict zone of “foreign terrorist fighters” from the Middle East and their involvement in military operations against Nagorno-Karabakh, the Ministry said.

“Taking into account the fact that hostilities are approaching the borders of Armenia as well as the encroachments on the territory of the Republic of Armenia that have already taken place, the prime minister of the Republic of Armenia has turned to the president of the Russian Federation for an immediate holding of consultations in order to define the type and amount of assistance that the Russian Federation can provide to the Republic of Armenia to ensure its security based on the allied relations between Armenia and Russia and Article 2 of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance of August 29, 1997,” the statement released by Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Russia has reaffirmed its commitment to Armenia under the treaty invoked by Pashinian.

In a statement issued later on Saturday Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “under the treaty Russia will render all necessary assistance to Yerevan if military operations take place directly on the territory of Armenia.”

At the same time, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs again called on the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to halt military operations immediately, deescalate the situation and return to “substantive negotiations” to achieve a peaceful settlement.

Pashinian’s letter to Putin comes hours after the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Jeyhun Bayramov, met separately with the Russian, American and French co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as held a face-to-face meeting with each other.

As a result of the talks the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed that in waging the war the parties will avoid targeting civilian populations, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs said. According to a statement released by the international mediators, Armenia and Azerbaijan also agreed to engage in exchange of bodies on the battlefield, provide lists of detained prisoners of war within a week with the aim of eventual exchange, and communicate on issues “related to possible ceasefire verification mechanisms.”

On Saturday morning, however, Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh have accused each other of failing to respect the agreement and continuing to shell areas populated by civilians. Both sides claimed, however, they have been hitting only military targets.

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