Russia announces partial withdrawal of its peacekeeping troops in Armenia

Russia announced on Thursday, May 9, the withdrawal from Armenia of some of its soldiers and border guards, the day after a meeting between the president, Vladimir Putin, and the Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinian, Yerevan taking for several months its distances from Moscow

Russia announces partial withdrawal of its peacekeeping troops in Armenia

Russia announced on Thursday, May 9, the withdrawal from Armenia of some of its soldiers and border guards, the day after a meeting between the president, Vladimir Putin, and the Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinian, Yerevan taking for several months its distances from Moscow. The two leaders spoke Wednesday evening in Moscow, on the sidelines of a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union, which brings together the two countries.

The number of soldiers involved, however, was not specified by the two countries. Hayk Konjorian, head of Civil Contract (the ruling party in the Armenian Parliament, of which Mr. Pashinian is also a member), assured Thursday that the agreement concerns Russian military and border posts installed in five Armenian regions since the end of 2020. However, the withdrawal does not seem to concern the main Russian military base in the country, located in Gyumri (around 3,000 soldiers).

“Mr. Pashinian said that at present, due to the development of the situation, this need no longer exists,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. “So President Putin agreed and the withdrawal of our military and border guards was decided,” he added, as quoted by Russian news agencies.

Rification between Armenia and the West

Armenia, Russia's traditional ally, criticizes the Russian peacekeeping force for not intervening during Azerbaijan's offensive that recaptured the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023 This attack caused around 100,000 of the 120,000 Armenians living in this mountainous region to flee to Armenian territory.

Since the fall of 2020, following a war lost by Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh, 2,000 Russian peacekeepers had been deployed there to enforce the terms of the ceasefire.

Faced with their inaction during the Azerbaijani offensive, Yerevan began a diplomatic rapprochement with the West. Armenia notably joined the International Criminal Court at the end of January, which obliges it to arrest Vladimir Putin if he were to set foot on Armenian territory.

The Armenian authorities had already announced at the beginning of March that they would put an end to the presence of Russian border guards at Yerevan international airport. On April 17, the Kremlin affirmed that the Russian soldiers deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh had begun their withdrawal.