Armenia, Russia’s longtime ally in the South Caucasus, has announced joint military exercises with the United States amid ongoing tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The “Eagle Partner 2023” exercise, which will run from September 11 to 20, will include measures to stabilize conflicts during blue helmet missions, the Armenian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, state news agency Armenpress reported.
The two former Soviet states, Armenia and Azerbaijan, have been fighting for decades over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is located on the territory of Azerbaijan but is predominantly populated by Armenians. Despite a ceasefire enforced by Russian peacekeepers, clashes continue to erupt. For months, the Azerbaijanis have blocked the Lachin Corridor, Armenia’s only access to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Observers describe the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh as catastrophic: there is a shortage of food and medicine. From Wednesday, bread is distributed only against vouchers. In this context, the Armenian leadership has also expressed great dissatisfaction with Russia’s role as a mediator. Yerevan accuses Moscow, long seen as the protectorate of Armenians in the Caucasus, of insufficient commitment.
Earlier in the year, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan canceled planned military exercises by the Russian-dominated CSTO military alliance in the country as pointless. The joint maneuver with the US is seen as a further sign of Armenia’s move away from Russia. Instead, the country is trying to involve the West in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
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