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Armenia Seeks More Russian Troop Deployments On Azeri Border


Armenia - An Armenian solider at an army outpost on the border with Azerbaijan, July 22, 2021.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian proposed that Russia deploy more troops along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan after Armenian and Azerbaijani forces stationed there again exchanged fire early on Thursday.

Tensions rose further in recent days at border sections separating Armenia’s northeastern Gegharkunik province from the Kelbajar district handed back to Azerbaijan after the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Three Armenian soldiers were killed and four others wounded there early on Wednesday in what the Armenian military described as a failed Azerbaijani attempt to capture one of its border posts in the mountainous area. Baku accused the Armenian side of provoking one of the worst armed incidents reported in the Karabakh conflict zone after the six-week war.

The heavy fighting stopped later on Wednesday after the two sides reached a ceasefire agreement brokered by Moscow.

The Armenian Defense Ministry said that Azerbaijani forces breached the truce and again fired at its troops on Thursday morning. It said an Armenian army officer was wounded as a result.

“Contrary to efforts of the Armenian government and the international community, the situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border is not stabilizing,” said Pashinian. “Azerbaijan is carrying on with aggressive rhetoric and actions while ignoring the international community’s proposals aimed at a political and long-term settlement of the conflict.”

“Given the current situation, I think it makes sense to consider the deployment of Russian border guard outposts along the entire Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” he said at the start of a weekly meeting of his cabinet. “It would enable us to carry out border delimitation and demarcation without a risk of armed clashes.”

“We are going to discuss this subject with our Russian partners,” added Pashinian.

A Russian military post on a highway running along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
A Russian military post on a highway running along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Russia, which has a military base in Armenia, already deployed army soldiers and border guards to the South Caucasus country’s Syunik province late last year to defend it against possible Azerbaijani attacks. Syunik borders districts southwest of Karabakh which were retaken by Azerbaijan during the war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire in November.

A senior Armenian official said on July 7 that Russia has begun preparations for a similar deployment to Gegharkunik’s volatile border areas. Moscow has still not publicly confirmed that.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quick to comment on Pashinian’s proposal. The RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as telling reporters that Moscow is making continuous efforts to strengthen the ceasefire regime and help Yerevan and Baku take confidence-building measures.

Asked whether Russia is ready to deploy border guards along Armenia’s entire border with Azerbaijan, Peskov said: “Contacts with Yerevan are going on. I have nothing to add.”

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