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Russia Expresses Concern as Ally Armenia Engages in Joint Drills with US Military

Armenia and the United States have announced plans to hold joint military drills next week. This comes as tensions between Armenia and Russia escalate due to Armenia’s ongoing dispute with neighboring Azerbaijan. The planned maneuvers have been criticized by Moscow, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stating that they do not contribute to stability in the region. The exercises, taking place from September 11 to September 20, are intended to prepare Armenia’s military for international peacekeeping missions, and will involve 85 US soldiers and 175 Armenian troops. Relations between Russia and Armenia have become strained, with Armenia accusing Moscow of abandoning the South Caucasus region. Despite occasional disagreements, Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance led by Russia. Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, expressed concern about the drills, urging CSTO members to conduct maneuvers with fellow alliance members. The drills come amidst increased tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan, particularly over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has seen sporadic violence since 2020. Azerbaijan retook control of most of the region last year, despite the majority of its inhabitants being ethnic Armenians. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of amassing troops on the border, while Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of staging provocations and failing to adhere to the Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has criticized Russia for not ensuring Armenia’s security and has called for diversification of Armenia’s security arrangements, possibly seeking closer ties with the US and the West. However, an unnamed diplomatic source cited by TASS dismissed these statements and claimed that Western countries are trying to push Russia out of the South Caucasus. Despite tensions, Armenia has stated that it has no intention of withdrawing from the CSTO.

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