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Ukrainian servicemen fire a French-made Caesar self-propelled howitzer toward Russian positions in eastern Ukraine on Dec. 28, 2022. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP via Getty Images)
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French Defense Minister Sebastian Lecornu signed a deal with his Armenian counterpart Suren Papikyan for France to sell Armenia Caesar howitzers, Lecornu wrote on X on June 18.

The announcement did not say how many Caesar howitzers would be included in the deal, or when they might start arriving in the country.

France has supplied Ukraine with dozens of Caesar howitzers, a self-propelled artillery system capable of hitting targets up to 55 kilometers (34 miles) away.

As Armenia's relations with longtime ally Russia have plunged to their lowest point since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Armenia has openly sought to establish new defense partnerships.

Shortly after Azerbaijan's successful offensive in September 2023 to reclaim the Nagorno-Karabakh region, recognized by international law as a part of Azerbaijan but de-facto under the control of the ethnic Armenian self-proclaimed republic since the early 1990s, France and Armenia announced a new defense partnership.

Around 650,000 Armenians live in France, representing one of the largest centers of the Armenian diaspora in the world.

Pashinyan announced on June 12 that Armenia would withdraw from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance consisting of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

"We will leave," Pashinyan told the Armenian parliament, accusing the CSTO of plotting "against us with Azerbaijan."

"We will decide when to leave. We won't come back, there is no other way," Pashinyan said.

According to Politico, a cache of letters, diplomatic notes, bills of sale, and export passports show that Belarus supplied "advanced military hardware to Azerbaijan between 2018 and 2022."

The move is likely regarded as a "bitter betrayal" by Armenia as the supplies gave Baku the "upper hand" in its conflict with Yerevan, Politico said.

The help Belarus reportedly provided to Azerbaijan ranged from supplying artillery targeting equipment and new gear for electronic warfare to modernizing artillery equipment.

Pashinyan: Armenia cannot rely on Russia, needs to consider other partners
Armenia cannot rely on Russia in terms of defense cooperation as it used to and needs to consider security relations with the U.S., France, India, and other states, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Feb. 1, Armenpress reported.

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