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Armenia holds military drills with US amid souring relations with Russia

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 11, 2023 10:30 PM 2 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

Armenian and U.S. forces on Sept. 11 started joint military exercises, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.

The drills, which will continue until Sept. 20, come amid deteriorating relations between Armenia and Russia.

The exercises, named Eagle Partner 2023, will involve 85 U.S. soldiers and 175 Armenian soldiers.

The aim is to prepare Armenian forces to take part in international peacekeeping missions, the Armenian Defense Ministry said.

U.S. Command spokesperson Colonel Martin O'Donnell said that Eagle Partner 2023 is "a vital opportunity for our soldiers from our two nations to build new relationships at the tactical level and to increase interoperability for peacekeeping operations."

The cooperation with U.S. troops is significant because Armenia still has economic, military, and political ties with Russia. It hosts a Russian military base in the town of Gyumri.

Moscow reacted negatively to the exercises. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he does not expect "anything good" to come out of the drills.

On Sept. 8, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Armenian ambassador due to the recent "unfriendly steps" taken by Armenia, referring in part to these military exercises with the U.S.

On Sept. 1, the Armenian government also sent the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to the parliament for ratification.

The move irritated Russia because the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Russia has called Armenia's intention to ratify the statute "unacceptable" and warned about "extremely negative consequences."

Meanwhile, Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov has threatened that the Kremlin could launch an invasion of Armenia and Georgia.

Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia's prime minister, has also accused Russia of failing to protect Armenia from Azeri troops.

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