(Bloomberg) -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a televised address to the nation that his country is no longer being protected by its regional allies and security blocs in its decades-long conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan.
“The analysis of the situation shows that the security blocks and allies, on whom we have long relied, have set a goal to show our vulnerability and make it impossible for the people of Armenia to have an independent state,” Pashinyan added without directly naming Russia, Yerevan’s biggest ally in the region.
The remarks come days after Russia decided not to intervene when Azerbaijan began a short military operation to take control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. About 2,000 Russian troops have been based in the territory, which is largely populated by Armenians but which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, since a war in 2020.
Russia has historically supported Armenia in its repeated clashes with Azerbaijan over the territory, but President Vladimir Putin’s preoccupation with the war on Ukraine has left Armenia feeling vulnerable. Armenia has a defense pact with Russia, though it doesn’t cover Nagorno-Karabakh and both countries are members of the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Armenia skipped planned CSTO drills in Belarus earlier this month after expressing anger at Moscow’s lack of support in the conflict with Azerbaijan. Days later, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan infuriated Russia by announcing joint military exercises with US forces to increase Armenian readiness for cooperation with NATO.
In a call with Pashinyan on Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed US support for Armenia sovereignty and independence.
--With assistance from Sara Khojoyan.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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