President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday dismissed that Russia’s ties with Armenia were strained, days after Moscow summoned its ambassador following Armenia’s decision to host US forces for peacekeeping drills.
Frustration has been mounting in Armenia recently over what officials say is Russia’s failure to act as a security guarantor amid mounting tensions with its historic rival Azerbaijan.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently said Armenia’s historic security reliance on Russia was a “strategic mistake” and his country is current holding peacekeeping drills with US forces.
“We have no problems with Armenia or Prime Minister Pashinyan,” Putin said at an economic forum in Vladivostok.
He added that Armenia and Azerbaijan could reach a lasting peace agreement now that Armenian authorities had recognized Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the mountainous territory and in 2020 Putin brokered a ceasefire that saw Armenia relinquish swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.
Moscow deployed some 2,000 peacekeepers to police the Lachin corridor, the sole road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.
Pashinyan however recently said Moscow was either “unable or unwilling” to control the route.
The peacekeepers’ “mandate is still in force, but humanitarian issues, and the prevention of some ethnic cleansing there, of course, have not gone anywhere, and I fully agree with this,” Putin said.
Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of spurring a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh by closing the Lachin corridor.
On Tuesday, Russia delivered humanitarian aid to the region via Azerbaijani-controlled territory, which experienced shortages of food and medicine.