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Russian Deputy FM: Western Countries Come to South Caucasus with Openly Confrontational Anti-Russian Agenda

“The West’s agenda in the South Caucasus does not always correspond to the interests of the region’s countries,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin told Russian state controlled news agency RIA Novosti on June 20 commenting on the intensification of military cooperation between Paris and Yerevan.

The comment follows the French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu announcement earlier this week during his visit to Yerevan, that Armenia has signed a contract with France for the purchase of French CAESAR self-propelled artillery units, which Paris supplies to Kyiv. Earlier, the Armenian Defense Ministry said it had signed a cooperation agreement with the French-German defense concern KNDS. The details of the contract were not disclosed.

Galuzin said: “Extra-regionalists are coming to the South Caucasus with their agenda, which, to put it mildly, does not always correspond to the interests of region’s states. Today, Western countries come to the South Caucasus with an openly confrontational anti-Russian agenda. We believe that this will not contribute to stability and security in the Transcaucasia [Russian for “South Caucasus].”

“We believe that regional security can be most effectively ensured by the efforts of the states of the respective region. We are in favor of regional responsibility both in terms of security and economic integration in the South Caucasus and other regions,” the Russian diplomat added.

A day earlier, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that France is provoking a spiral of escalation in the South Caucasus with contracts for the delivery of CAESAR howitzers to Armenia. She emphasized that the French authorities are not guided by Armenia’s interests. Paris, according to her, “seeks to use the existing disagreements, contradictions within countries or between countries as an instrument to achieve exclusively its own opportunistic goals, by these goals I mean not only the personal interest of the Élysée Palace, but also France as a conductor, so to speak, of the NATO ideology.”

Azerbaijan has lashed out against French government following the announcement of the deal. The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan in its statement said the deal is “another evidence of France’s provocative activities in the South Caucasus region” and that “Macron dictatorship will bear full responsibility for the aggravation of the situation in the South Caucasus and the emergence of a new hotbed of war.”

Armenia is deepening military ties with France after the 2023 war with Azerbaijan over Karabakh and amid growing tensions with Russia, its traditional ally and until recently its main supplier of arms and ammunition. Yerevan started receiving military aid from Paris in 2023. The first batch of armored vehicles for the Armenian army was delivered to Armenia via Georgia. In late October 2023, French Defense Minister Lecornu said that Paris intends to sell three Ground Master 200 (GM200) radar systems to Armenia, and a letter of intent is planned to be signed with missile systems manufacturer MBDA regarding Mistral MANPADS. France will also train the Armenian military in the field of air defense.
In February, the heads of the military departments of Armenia and France outlined new directions of defense cooperation at a meeting in Yerevan. Special attention was paid to the issues of military education, combat training, various exercises, consulting and expert support.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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