A meeting between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin ended at the Kremlin on Saturday with both leaders affirming that relations between Armenia and Russia were advancing in all facets—economic, military, security and strategic.
Ahead of a closed-door meeting, Putin remarked about the “centuries-old” relations between Armenia and Russia and said that today those ties were steadily developing in the “political, military and security realms and economic cooperation.”
He said there was no doubt that Russian was Armenia’s number one economic partner and the largest investor in it economy saying the relations are “quite diversified.”
Putin singled out Russian energy supplies to Armenia Putin emphasizing that Armenia received Russian natural gas “at the lowest prices… in the world.” He also cited trade and investment data to illustrate the key role Russia plays in Armenia’s everyday life.
Pashinyan, meanwhile, said that there were no problems in the Russian-Armenia relations.
“My meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin just ended. We had a productive conversation, based on which we can say that Armenian-Russian relations are great. There are no problems in our relations in any direction,” Pashinyan wrote in a Facebook post after the conclusion of his meeting with Putin.
During the press briefing ahead of a closed-door session, Pashinyan addressed what he called “pessimism’ that has played out in both the Russian and Armenia press and social media networks, in an attempt to dispel any notion of an impasse in relations between the two countries.
“Despite some pessimism that exists in both the Armenian and Russian press and in social media, I think that our relations are developing in a dynamic way, very naturally. And I think our top objective is to try to use our entire potential in developing our relations,” said Pashinyan.
“There are no unresolvable issues in our relations,” said Pashinyan. “I am confident those issues will be resolved, in the interest of our allied relations, [and by] respecting the principles of sovereignty of states and non-interference in domestic affairs. I am very happy that every time there is a discussion of our relations our Russian partners emphasize these principles,” added Pashinyan.
The Saturday meeting took place against the backdrop of recent, and uncharacteristic, criticism by official Moscow centered on the criminal probe currently underway in Armenia of the March 1, 2008 post election events.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last month called the arrests related to the probe “political.” He stepped up his criticism on Monday with another statement that centered on the criminal investigation.
“We are concerned that the situation in Armenia is still far from calming down. In particular, there is an open investigation of events that happened a decade ago, arrests are happening. We consider it a domestic business of the Republic of Armenia and we want these domestic affairs to remain grounded in the law and the constitution. We also wish for them to be completed as soon as possible, so that Armenia can focus on constructive activities,” said Lavrov.
Armenian authorities are investigating former president Robert Kocharian, former defense minister Mikael Harutyunyan and former deputy defense minister Yuri Khachaturov. All three have been charged with breaching Armenia’s constitutional order in relation to the March 1, 2008 events, during which eight civilians and two police officers were killed in a standoff with security officials at prost-election rally.
Kocharian was remanded into custody and was later released after a higher court overturned a lower court’s decision on the pre-trial remand. Haruyunyan has escaped Armenia and an international warrant for his arrest has been issued, while Khachaturov was released on bail.
The main point of contention for Moscow seems to be the charges against Khachaturov, who is currently the secretary-general of the CSTO. On Friday, however, the Russian authorities announced that they have withdrawn the arrest warrant for Harutyunyan.