Armenia is not Russia's ally in Ukraine war, says PM Pashinyan

FILE PHOTO: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attends an expanded meeting of representatives of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), including foreign ministers, defence ministers and security councils' secretaries, in Yerevan, Armenia, November 23, 2022. Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure via REUTERS

TBILISI (Reuters) - Armenia is not a Russian ally in the Ukraine war and is worried about the impact of that crisis on its relations with other countries, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said, drawing a cautious response in Moscow.

The tiny ex-Soviet nation in the southern Caucasus region has close security and economic ties to Russia, which have been further strengthened by its decades-long dispute with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia is a member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) military alliance, while Azerbaijan is not.

"We are not Russia's ally in the war with Ukraine. And our feeling from that war, from that conflict, is anxiety because it directly affects all our relationships," Pashinyan told CNN Prima News in an interview, adding that Armenia felt caught between the two sides.

"In the West they notice that we are Russia's ally ... in Russia they see that we are not their ally in the Ukraine war, and it turns out that we are not anyone's ally in this situation, which means that we are vulnerable," he said.

Asked about Pashinyan's remarks on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded with caution, saying Moscow had taken note of what he called "an important statement".

"We know that there are certain nuances in Armenia's approach to the conflict over Ukraine. We take them into account, we know them, but at the same time we continue to develop our allied relations with Armenia," Peskov said.

Former Kremlin adviser Sergei Markov, commenting on Peskov's statement, said on his Telegram channel that Moscow was "hinting that it sees that Pashinyan is leading Armenia away from friendship with Russia into the arms of Russia's enemies".

Armenia and Azerbaijan have resumed talks aimed at clinching a peace accord to resolve their dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is recognised as part of Azerbaijan but is populated mainly by ethnic Armenians.

Azerbaijan recaptured in 2020 chunks of territory lost in a conflict as Soviet rule collapsed in the early 1990s.

(Reporting by Felix Light in Tbilisi; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Alison Williams)

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