Russia summons Armenia’s ambassador as ties fray and exercises with U.S. troops approach

Russian military vehicles roll along a road towards the separatist
Russian military vehicles roll along a road toward the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020.
(Sergei Grits / Associated Press)
Share via

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the ambassador from longtime ally Armenia to protest upcoming joint military exercises with the United States and express other complaints, highlighting growing tensions that are straining traditionally close relations.

“The leadership of Armenia has taken a series of unfriendly steps in recent days,” the ministry said in a statement, citing the exercises that will begin Monday, Armenia’s provision of humanitarian aid to Ukraine and its moves to ratify the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court, which has indicted President Vladimir Putin on suspicion of war crimes connected to the deportation of children from Ukraine.

The ministry also complained about remarks by the chairman of Armenia’s parliament that it regarded as insulting to ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who is noted for her harsh comments about other countries.


About 175 Armenian troops and 85 from the United States will start exercises Monday focusing on peacekeeping operations.

Russia-organized elections in occupied parts of Ukraine are an effort to tighten Moscow’s hold on territories it illegally annexed a year ago.

Sept. 8, 2023

Lanlocked Armenia, a former Soviet republic, has close military ties with Russia, including hosting a Russian military base and participating in the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization alliance, or CSTO.

But it has become increasingly disillusioned with Russia since Armenia’s 2020 war with Azerbaijan. The armistice that ended the war called for a Russian peacekeeping force to ensure passage on the road leading from Armenia to the Nagorno-Karabakh ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan.

But Azerbaijan has blocked that road, the Lachin Corridor, since December, and Armenia has complained that Russian peacekeepers are doing nothing to open it. The roadblock has led to food shortages in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh.

Armenia this year refused to allow CSTO exercises on its territory and it declined to send troops to bloc exercises in Belarus.