Pashinian: Moscow to Continue Supply of Weapons to Yerevan
(Source: Radio Free Europe; issued Sept 09, 2018)
Russia has agreed to continue to supply weapons to Armenia, the Caucasus country's prime minister, Nikol Pashinian, told the Kommersant newspaper in an interview.

The comments in the Russian newspaper on September 9 come a day after Pashinian met in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a sensitive time in Moscow-Yerevan relations.

"We agreed that supplies of Russian weapons will be continued routinely," Pashinian said when asked about any agreements reached in his meetings with Putin.

Pashinian added that the weapons will be financed through loans and that "we will discuss other options."

Armenia in November 2017 took a $100 million Russian loan to finance deliveries of weapons from Moscow, Russian state-run TASS news agency reported.

It added that the loan provided funds for Yerevan's use from 2018-22.

Armenia is embroiled in a protracted conflict with Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, officially part of Azerbaijan but populated mainly by ethnic Armenians.

It declared independence from Azerbaijan during a 1988-94 war that killed some 30,000 people. Three decades of diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the conflict have brought little progress and the region's independence has not been recognized by any other country.

The quickly arranged meeting between Pashinian and Putin came after a reported rise in tensions in Armenian-Russian relations over aninvestigation by the new Pashinian government into events surrounding deadly 2008 postelection demonstrations.

Prosecutors have filed criminal charges against former Armenian President Robert Kocharian and current CSTO Chairman Yuri Khatchaturov, actions that the Kremlin has criticized.

Russia and Armenia have long had close ties, but questions about the relations have increased since Pashinian in May ousted from power Serzh Sarkisian, seen as close to Moscow.

In his remarks before the meeting, Putin said relations between Moscow and Yerevan were developing "steadily in all directions."

"This concerns the sphere of political relations, the military sphere, and issues of security and economic cooperation," he said.

Pashinian noted that he was having his third meeting with Putin within the space of just four months.

"I think that such frequency emphasizes the special nature of relations between our countries, let me say also the special nature of our personal relations," he said.

Still, Pashinian acknowledged the existence of "some questions" that need to be discussed by the two countries.

"God save us from a situation where we would have no questions in our relations, because that would mean we have no relations at all," he said.

Pashinian said in the Kommersant interview that Putin had accepted his invitation to visit Yerevan, "if not before the end of the current year, then early next year."

Meanwhile, Pashinian is expected to travel to Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on September 14.

France is home to a half-million ethnic Armenians and the two countries have close cultural ties.

Macron is due visit Yerevan for a Francophonie summit in the Armenian capital on October 11-12.

Pashinian met with Macron in July at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

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