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Russia Deploys More Troops On Armenian-Azeri Border


Armenia - Russian Ambassador to Armenia Sergey Kopyrkin visits a Russian military post in Syunik region, June 3, 2021.

The Armenian Defense Ministry confirmed on Thursday that Russian has deployed more troops along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan amid lingering tensions there.

A statement released by the ministry said that Russian border guards have been deployed in and around Voskepar, a border village in Armenia’s northern Tavush province. It said barracks and other facilities are now being constructed for them.

“The process is carried out within the framework of Russian-Armenian cooperation,” added the statement.

Earlier in the day Hetq.am posted a short video of a Russian flag flying on a two-story building in the area refurbished by construction workers. The news service described the building as a Russian border guard post.

Russia, which has a military base in Armenia, already deployed army soldiers and border guards in southeastern Syunik province late last year to defend it against possible Azerbaijani attacks. Syunik borders districts southwest of Karabakh which were retaken by Azerbaijan during last year’s war.

Tensions rose late last month at border sections separating another Armenian province, Gegharkunik, from the Kelbajar district handed back to Azerbaijan after the six-week war. Three Armenian soldiers were killed and four others wounded there on July 28 in fighting with Azerbaijani forces.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian proposed on July 29 that Russian border guards be deployed along the entire Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Russian officials responded coolly to the idea.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Bikantov, said on Thursday that further Russian deployments are complicated by the fact that the frontier is not demarcated.

“We believe that only the immediate start of work on delimiting and subsequently demarcating the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan can ensure a steady de-escalation on the border,” Bikantov told a briefing in Moscow.

Moscow drafted in May an agreement on the creation of an Armenian-Azerbaijani intergovernmental commission on border demarcation. The move sparked Armenian opposition allegations that Pashinian has secretly agreed to major chunks of Armenian territory to Azerbaijan. The prime minister categorically denied that.

Voskepar is adjacent to one of several small enclaves inside Armenia which were controlled by Azerbaijan in Soviet times. Baku reportedly wants to regain control over them.

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