Pashinian discussed with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin ways of increasing Russian-Armenian trade and launching joint economic projects on the second day of his official visit to Russia.
“We are certainly interested in expanding bilateral cooperation and launching new joint projects in areas such as energy, mining, transport infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, agro-industrial complex, digital economy, high technology, and innovation,” Mishustin told Pashinian.
The Russian and Armenian governments should speed up preparations for the signing of a new program of bilateral economic cooperation, he said in his opening remarks at the talks.
“I think that we are facing common challenges in the current situation,” Pashinian said, for his part. “But there are also opportunities which ... we should try to use.”
“I am sure that in the future we will continue to cooperate very effectively and find new ways and solutions for the further growth of mutual trade,” he added.
The volume of Russian-Armenian trade grew strongly in 2021 and in January and February this year, solidifying Russia’s status as Armenia’s number trading partner. But it reportedly shrunk in March following the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting Western sanctions imposed on Russia.
Visiting Moscow last week, Armenian Economy Minister Kerobian said the two governments should work together to “urgently eliminate the causes of the decline and restore growth.” He also announced that Armenia has started paying for Russian natural gas in rubles.
Citing the “illegal sanctions,” Mishustin called for a greater use of the Russian as well as Armenian national currencies in mutual commercial operations.
Pashinian and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the impact of the sanctions during their meeting held outside Moscow on Tuesday. In a joint declaration issued after the talks, they criticized “the use of unilateral restrictive measures by a number of countries.” They also pledged to “jointly overcome the challenges caused by these measures.”
Because of its close economic links with Russia, Armenia is expected to be significantly affected by the Western sanctions. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have forecast that economic growth in the South Caucasus country will slow down considerably this year.