Armenian leader visits Russia, pledges economic bloc cooperation despite tensions

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, whose relationship with Russia has grown strained this year, says he is trying to tame regional politics while Armenia assumes the rotating presidency of the Moscow-dominated economic bloc.

TALLINN, Estonia — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, whose country's relations with Russia have grown tense this year, said Monday he would try to tame politics that hinder regional integration as Armenia takes over the rotating presidency of the Moscow-dominated economic bloc.

Armenia will be the chairman of the Eurasian Economic Union in 2024. Established in 2014, the bloc includes Russia and Armenia along with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and promotes the free movement of goods and services.

Over the past year, Pashinian has offended Russia by refusing to allow the Moscow-led defense alliance to conduct exercises in Armenia and by refusing to attend alliance summits.

Russia was also angered when Armenia joined the Rome Treaty, which established an international criminal court for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of war crimes for abducting children during the war with Ukraine.

However, Pashinyan attended the union's Supreme Council meeting in St. Petersburg on Monday.

Pashinyan told the crowd that the union „and its economic principles should not be associated with political aspirations.” Armenia is „trying to crush all attempts to politicize Eurasian integration.”

Armenia is heavily dependent on Russian trade and hosts a Russian military base, but ties have soured over the past year after a Russian peacekeeping force failed to block a route from Armenia to Azerbaijan's Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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Azerbaijan took full control of the region in a lightning strike in September.

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