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Russia and Armenia agree on withdrawal of border guards

9 May 2024
Pashinyan and Putin in Moscow on 8 May. Official photo

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan have agreed on the withdrawal of Russian military and border guards from several regions of Armenia at a meeting in Moscow. 

On Thursday, Russian Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told state news agency RIA Novosti that Russian border guards would remain stationed on Armenia’s borders with Iran and Turkey ‘at the request of the Armenian side’.

Peskov said the decision was made in a one-on-one meeting between Pashinyan and Putin at the Kremlin on Wednesday.

The meeting between Putin and Pashinyan followed a summit dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

‘In the autumn of 2020, at the request of the Armenian side, our military and border guards were stationed in a number of Armenian regions’, Russia’s Interfax quoted Peskov as saying, referring to the Armenian–Azerbaijani border. ‘Pashinyan said that today, due to changed conditions, there is no longer such a need, so President Putin agreed, and the withdrawal of our military and border guards was agreed upon’, he continued.

The Russian military presence on the border with Azerbaijan has faced criticism in Armenia for remaining inactive during several incursions by Azerbaijani troops into Armenia. In February, the EU’s civilian monitoring mission on the border accused Russian troops of disrupting their work.

[Read more: Russian border guards obstructed EU mission in Armenia]

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On Thursday, the head of the parliamentary faction of Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract party, Hayk Konjoryan, wrote on Facebook that the agreement stipulated that Russian border guards and military points in Tavush, Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Gegharkunik, and Ararat regions would cease their deployment and leave those points.

Konjoryan added that Russia and Armenia had also agreed to end the deployment of Russian border guards at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport, a move that Armenia’s government called for in March. 

Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to begin the long-delayed delimitation of their shared border on 19 April in Tavush Province, prompting condemnation and protests from people living in border villages in Armenia.

[Read more: Border delimitation announcement prompts protest in Armenia]

In March, Baku demanded that four abandoned villages be ‘immediately released’. Days later, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan hinted that Armenia might return control of the four villages to Azerbaijan in a unilateral handover of territory to avoid war. 

Viktor Bondarev, the first deputy chair of the Russian council’s defence committee, reportedly told RIA that the withdrawal of Russian troops from Armenia risked an escalation, as the guards had been ensuring security in the region. 

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Pashinyan and Putin met on Thursday. The leaders met on Wednesday. 

Read in Georgian on On.ge.