YEREVAN — Armenia has officially told Russia to withdraw its border guards from Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport, Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan said at a briefing with journalists on Wednesday.

“Armenia’s stance on the issue is clear, and we have informed the Russian Federation about this clear position in an official letter,” Grigoryan said.

When asked why such a need has arisen, Grigoryan said “Armenia is building its capacity in various directions during the period of independence, and at the moment Armenia has full capacity to fully control the airport.”

“Armenia has informed the Russian Federation about its clear position in an official letter.” Grigoryan informed.

The border guards have for decades been stationed there as well as along Armenia’s borders with Turkey and Iran in accordance with Yerevan’s military and political alliance with Moscow. Armenian media outlets have reported in recent weeks that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government now wants them to leave Zvartnots amid a deepening rift between the two longtime allies.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said on Wednesday that Moscow has offered the Armenian side to hold “interagency consultations” and “try to dispel their concerns” regarding the CSTO. “They have not responded to this initiative so far,” she said.

Zakharova also echoed Lavrov’s warnings about what Moscow calls highly negative consequences of Armenia’s ongoing reorientation towards the West. The South Caucasus country, she said, risks becoming another “duped victim of the West” and meeting the fate of Ukraine.

“I would not like this to happen to Armenia, which has gone through a very difficult historical path, including genocide, defense of sovereignty, struggle for culture, serious territorial disputes, conflicts,” added Zakharova.

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