MOSCOW (RFE/RL) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian praised the current level of relations between the two countries as they met for talks in Moscow on Saturday.
The Kremlin said the negotiations between the two leaders focused on “key questions of developing allied Russian-Armenian relations as well as cooperation in Eurasian territory, in particular, within the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).”
In his remarks before the meeting Putin said that relations between Moscow and Yerevan “Today the relations between Armenia and Russia are steadily developing in all directions. This concerns the sphere of political relations, the military sphere, issues of security and economic cooperation,” the Russian leader said.
Putin singled out Russian energy supplies to Armenia, stressing that Yerevan receives Russian natural gas “at the lowest prices Gazprom sells gas in the world – $150 per 1,000 cubic meters.”
Pashinian, for his part, stressed the fact that he was having his third meeting with Putin within a space of just four months. “I think that such frequency emphasizes the special nature of relations between our countries, let me say also the special nature of our personal relations,” the Armenian leader said.
“Despite certain pessimism that is present both in the Armenian and Russian press and in social media, I think that our relations develop in a fairly dynamic way, very naturally. And I think our top objective is to try to use the whole potential in developing our relations.”
Still, Pashinian acknowledged the existence of ‘some questions’ that need to be discussed by the two countries. “God save us from a situation where we would have no questions in our relations, because that would mean we have no relations at all. I can say with certainty that we have no issues in our relations that can’t be solved, and today, of course, we are going to discuss a wide range of issues,” he said.
“I am sure that these issues will be solved, and we will be guided by respect of interests in our allied relations, respect for the interests of our countries, respect for the sovereignty of our countries and the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs,” Pashinian underscored.
The Armenian prime minister’s talks in Moscow come after a strong Russian reaction to Yerevan’s prosecution of a number of former government officials, including ex-President Robert Kocharian and ex-deputy Defense Minister Yuri Khachaturov, who currently chairs the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led defense pact of six former Soviet countries, including Armenia.
Both Kocharian and Khachaturov are accused of breaching the constitutional order during a deadly postelection crackdown in 2008. After charging Khachaturov Armenia also initiated a procedure to recall him from the top CSTO post.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov twice publicly denounced the prosecutions of former officials in Yerevan, arguing that they ran counter to the new Armenian leadership’s earlier pledges not to “persecute its predecessors for political reasons.”