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Karabakh Leader Wants Closer Ties With Russia


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian meets with Karabakh President Ara Harutyunian, April 8, 2021

Forging closer ties with Russia is vital for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh given the outcome of last year’s with Azerbaijan, Ara Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, said on Wednesday.

“I see the future of Armenia and Artsakh within the framework of new and deeper military-political cooperation [with Russia,]” he said at a meeting in Stepanakert. “Together with Russia we need to confront the new situation because, as I said, Turkey is not going to leave the region.”

Harutiunian said that Turkey “participated in the war on the enemy’s side” and also recruited thousands of Syrian mercenaries for the Azerbaijani army. This was the main reason for Azerbaijan’s victory, he added.

The six-week hostilities stopped on November 10 after Russia brokered an Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreement. As part of the agreement, Moscow deployed around 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops along the new Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” and a land corridor connecting Karabakh to Armenia.

Russian military presence in Armenia could also increase in the coming months. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and other Armenian leaders have indicated that they would welcome that.

“The Armenian-Russian military alliance is pivotal for ensuring the external security of the Republic of Armenia,” Pashinian said on April 14.

Armenian opposition groups blame Pashinian for the Armenian side’s defeat. Some of them have said that he would have reduced Armenian territorial losses had he agreed to an earlier ceasefire deal that was proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 19.

Harutiunian seemed to defend Pashinian against the criticism. He said that already in early October it was clear that the Armenian side is heading for defeat but that the war was not stopped then because of a lack of “consensus” among Armenia’s ruling and opposition forces.

“At that point they seemed to consider stopping the war treason,” he said in an apparent reference to the opposition.

Some opposition figures, including a representative of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia, responded by accusing Harutiunian of trying to help Pashinian dodge responsibility for his handling of the war.

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