Armenian leader travels to Russia despite tensions and promises economic bloc cooperation

By Isaac M December 26, 2023

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, whose country’s relations with Russia grew tense this year, said Monday that when Armenia takes the rotating chairmanship of a Moscow-dominated economic alliance he will try to suppress politics obstructing regional integration.

Armenia is to become the chairman country of the Eurasian Economic Union in 2024. The bloc, established in 2014, includes Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan along with Russia and Armenia and encourages the free movement of goods and services.

Pashinyan in the past year has offended Russia by refusing to allow a Moscow-led security alliance to hold exercises in Armenia and by declining to attend an alliance summit.

Russia also was angered when Armenia joined the Treaty of Rome, which established the International Criminal Court that has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of war crimes for deportation of children during the war with Ukraine.

However, Pashinyan attended a meeting of the union’s Supreme Council in St. Petersburg on Monday.

The union “and its economic principles should not correlate with political ambitions,” Pashinyan said at the meeting. Armenia is “trying to suppress all attempts to politicize Eurasian integration.”

Armenia is highly dependent on Russian trade and hosts a Russian military base, but relations deteriorated in the past year as a Russian peacekeeping force failed to unblock the road leading from Armenia to the ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan took full control of the region in a lightning offensive in September.

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