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Senior Russian MP lambasts Armenia’s decision to take part in NATO drills

The senator believes that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is a "pragmatic politician"
Opening ceremony of Noble Partner 2018 drills at the military base of Vaziani, Georgia EPA-EFE/ZURAB KURTSIKIDZE
Opening ceremony of Noble Partner 2018 drills at the military base of Vaziani, Georgia

MOSCOW, August 2. /TASS/. Head of the State Duma (lower house of parliament) Commission for legal support to the development of the Russian military-industrial complex Vladimir Gutenev has said that Armenia’s participation in the Noble Partner exercise of the NATO members and the alliance’s partners raises numerous questions.

He recalled that the Noble Partner 2018 drills kicked off at Vaziani military base located in Georgia. More than 3,000 military servicemen from 13 NATO’s member-states and partners, including Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, are expected to take part in them.

"The North Atlantic Alliance’s desire to allure Russia’s strategic partners in its ranks has long ceased to be a secret. We can see, however, that Serbia, which receives aid from us within the framework of military-technical cooperation, despite being surrounded by NATO countries, pursues a more balanced policy than Russia’s neighbors, which are dependent in terms of ensuring their national sovereignty. In light of that, it is strange to see Armenia, a CSTO member, taking part in the exercises of the military-political alliance whose members not only make aggressive statements about Russia but also expand the area of their military presence," Gutenev told TASS on Thursday.

He noted that "the countries closely cooperate in the security area." According to the lawmaker, "Russia provides assistance and preferential supplies as part of military-technical cooperation and, as a guarantor of peace in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, sometimes suffers economic losses."

"We have already seen people with pro-Russian rhetoric coming to power in a number of countries, including Ukraine. However, they later changed their countries’ foreign policy vector, which sparked military coups. At the same time, we continue to believe that [Armenian Prime Minister] Nikol Pashinyan is a pragmatic politician who has a balanced approach to interstate cooperation issues," Gutenev added.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to evaluate specific steps by that country’s leadership while making important strategic decisions, including on assistance and military-technical cooperation, the lawmaker noted. "This assessment should be based not so much on assurances of friendship. It should be linked to the stance on cooperation with our strategic adversaries, while voting in the UN, the OPCW and other international organizations," he stressed.