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Russia Agrees to Remove Some Troops, Border Guards From Armenia

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attend a meeting in Moscow, Russia, May 8, 2024. EPA/EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/TASS

Russia has agreed to remove some of its troops and border guards from Armenia, the Kremlin said on Thursday, after months of spiraling tensions between the two ex-Soviet allies.

Yerevan, a traditional partner of Moscow, has publicly distanced itself recently, angry that Russian peacekeeping forces did not intervene during last year's Azerbaijani offensive to retake the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Moscow for talks on Wednesday evening, where the two leaders agreed to the withdrawal of some Russian troops, Russian state media reported on Thursday, citing the Kremlin.

"In the fall of 2020, at the request of the Armenian side, our military and border guards were stationed in a number of regions," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying.

"Pashinyan said that now, due to the changed conditions, there is no longer such a requirement. President Putin agreed and the withdrawal of our military and border guards was agreed."

Russian guards would remain on Armenia's borders with Turkey and Iran, he added.

Armenia previously requested Russian border guards pull out of Yerevan's Zvartnots international airport.

The head of Pashinyan's ruling party in the Armenian parliament, Hayk Konjoryan, on Thursday said that the agreement concerned Russian military and border posts installed in five Armenian regions after a six-week war with Azerbaijan in 2020.

The deal does not appear to affect Russia's major military base, home to around 3,000 troops, in the Armenian city of Gyumri.

The two countries are military allies through the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a mutual defense pact, though Yerevan said it had de facto suspended participation amid bilateral tensions.

Armenia also joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) earlier this year, a move that obliges it to arrest Putin should he ever set foot on Armenian territory under an ICC warrant issued for the Russian leader on war crimes charges.

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