Armenia will begin military exercises with the United States next week to train it to participate in peacekeeping missions. This was reported by the Armenian Ministry of Defense on Wednesday. Dubbed Eagle Partner 2023, the exercises are another sign that Yerevan is trying to distance itself from its traditional ally Moscow.
Armenians accuse the Russians of failing the Russian peacekeeping mission by allowing the Azeris to block a road for supplies to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region amid conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan.
A few days ago, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Moscow of being unable or unwilling to maintain control over the Lachin Corridor. Since the end of the war with Azerbaijan in 2020, Russian peacekeepers will have to protect that important corridor. Observers report that the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, located in Azerbaijan but populated mainly by Armenians, is dire.
Pashinian’s statements drew criticism from Moscow, which was unhappy with the US-Armenian maneuvers. “Certainly awareness is needed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “We’re going to analyze this and follow up.”
Russia has a military base in Armenia, and considers various Caucasus republics its backyard. In recent months, there have been regular skirmishes along the border, and mediation efforts by the European Union, the United States and Russia have so far failed.
The joint exercises will continue from September 11 to 20 and involve 175 Armenian and 85 US military personnel. Washington and Yerevan want to “raise the level of interoperability” of their forces participating in peacekeeping operations.
In addition, Pashinyan’s wife will be in Kyiv on Wednesday for the first women’s meeting on humanitarian issues organized by the wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
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