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Armenia-US Joint Military Exercises Anger Russia: Boosting Ties Amid Rising Tensions with Azerbaijan

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Armenia and the United States Conduct Joint Military Exercises, Angering Russia

Armenia and the United States have started joint military exercises near the capital Yerevan, causing tensions with Russia. The war games, called “Partner Eagle,” will run until September 20 and involve 175 Armenians and 85 American soldiers. These exercises reflect Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s efforts to strengthen ties with the United States and other Western allies, especially amid escalating tensions with neighboring Azerbaijan.

Military Exercises to Enhance Interoperability and Tactical Skills

The Armenian Ministry of Defense states that these exercises aim to enhance the interoperability of participating units in international peacekeeping missions and facilitate the exchange of tactical skills.

Russian Reaction and Armenia’s Shift towards the West

Russia reacted strongly to the joint exercises, with the Russian Foreign Ministry summoning the Armenian ambassador to officially protest against the training and other actions taken by Armenia, describing them as “unfriendly.” Russia has been Armenia’s main economic partner and ally since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Armenia hosts a Russian military base and is part of the Moscow-led security alliance known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization. However, Prime Minister Pashinyan has become increasingly critical of Moscow’s role, particularly its lack of support in lifting the siege of the Armenian-populated breakaway region in Azerbaijan. He argues that Armenia needs to seek help from the West to ensure its security.

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The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Azerbaijan’s Control

The region of Nagorno-Karabakh, located within Azerbaijan, came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces supported by the Armenian military after a six-year separatist war that ended in 1994. Armenian forces also held significant areas surrounding the region. However, in a six-week war with Armenia in 2020, Azerbaijan regained control of the surrounding territories and a large portion of Nagorno-Karabakh. The resulting Russia-brokered truce left the region connected to Armenia only through the Lachin Corridor, a single road intended to ensure freedom of movement.

Restrictions on Access to Necessities

Azerbaijan has since closed the Lachin Corridor, severely limiting the delivery of essential supplies, including food and medical aid, to the region, which is home to approximately 120,000 people.

Kremlin’s Response and Maintaining the Russia-Armenia Alliance

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, addressing the media, dismissed Armenian authorities’ claims that Russia was not adequately protecting its ally. Peskov emphasized the need for “deep analysis” of Armenia’s decision to hold joint war exercises with the United States. However, he also downplayed the differences between Russia and Armenia, affirming that they will remain close allies and partners. Peskov stated that the alliance and partnership between the two countries are essential for their development and national interests, and any issues should be resolved through dialogue.

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