Armenia starts this Monday military exercises of US forces a fact that reflects the growing divide between this Caucasian country and its traditional ally Russia, amid the Ukrainian conflict.
The “Eagle Partner 2023” exercises, which will take place until September 20, desire to “raise the interoperational level” of US and Armenian forces participating in peacekeeping operations.
“We have confirmed that the opening ceremony of the Eagle Partner 2023 exercises has begun,” a US military spokesman told AFP.
According to Washington, “about 85 American soldiers will train together with about 175 Armenian soldiers” at the Zar and Armavir training centers, located near Yerevan.
These exercises are viewed very negatively by Moscow, which summoned the Armenian ambassador on Friday to denounce the “hostile measures.”
The head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, emphasized on Sunday that Russia “sees nothing good in the attempts of an aggressive NATO member country to penetrate the Caucasus.”
This Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov indicated for his part that this rapprochement between Armenia and the United States “requires a more in-depth analysis,” although he emphasized that Russia wants to continue the a “close dialogue on the part of Armenia.”
The conflict in Azerbaijan, key
But in Yerevan Disappointment reigned over Russia’s inability to support Armenia against Azerbaijan and the lack of commitment of Russian peacekeepers in the conflict between the two neighbors.
The two rival countries of the Caucasus They waged two wars for control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has been disputed for decades.
Tensions between Baku and Yerevan have escalated in recent months, with Azerbaijan blocking the Lachin Corridor, the only route connecting Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, causing severe shortages.
Russia, which has a contingent of peacekeepers in the area, has failed to contain the crisis and Armenia has accused it of inaction several times.
“By placing its hopes on the Russians, Armenia has lost, considering what happened to us. Now we will try the Americans,” Mariam Anahamian, a 27-year-old who lives in Yerevan, told AFP.
“Russia did not respect its wartime commitments and made our situation worse,” said Arthur Khachadurian, a 51-year-old security agent.
For the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, Moscow is “unable to maintain control of the Lachin corridor or has no will.”