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Armenia PM urges stronger military links with Russia

AFP
Yerevan
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on Saturday for greater military cooperation with Russia, a day after Azerbaijani troops began moving into disputed territory previously held by Armenian separatist forces.
“We hope we can reinforce cooperation with Russia not only in the security sector but also military and technical cooperation,” he said, according to his press service.
“Of course, there were hard times before the war, but the situation today is even more difficult.”
Pashinyan was speaking during a meeting in Yerevan with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, after Azerbaijani troops Friday moved into the Aghdam district bordering Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 9 after six weeks of fighting over the self-proclaimed republic. Under the agreement, Azerbaijan will regain control of three districts that have been controlled by the separatists since the 1990s.
Around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have deployed in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh under the terms of the deal and Shoigu said Saturday the troops had secured the return of 7,000 refugees back into the disputed territory who were displaced during the recent fighting.
“For us, the main thing is to prevent bloodshed,” Shoigu said on Saturday. He was part of a major Russian delegation in Yerevan that also included Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Lavrov described the visit as a signal of Russia’s “support” for Armenian authorities, who have come under growing pressure from the opposition for ceding disputed territory to Azerbaijan.
Armenia replaced its defence minister Friday in an effort to placate demonstrators that stormed government buildings after the deal was announced and have taken to the streets almost daily since.
Yet Lavrov said that “attempts to question this agreement both domestically and internationally are unacceptable.”

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