Armenia expects Russian support in Karabakh war
Armenia is counting on support from its ex-Soviet military allies including Russia if war breaks out with Azerbaijan over Nagorny Karabakh, the defence minister said on Thursday.
Armenia, a member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) which has been touted as a post-Soviet answer to NATO, is locked in an increasingly tense dispute over Karabakh, a region seized from Azerbaijan by ethnic Armenian separatists in a war in the 1990s.
"Given Armenia's membership in the CSTO, we can count on an appropriate response and the support of our allies in the organisation, who have specific responsibilities to each other and the ability to react adequately to potential aggression," Defence Minister Seyran Ohanian told a security conference in Yerevan.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly threatened to use force to win back Karabakh if peace negotiations do not yield satisfactory results, while Yerevan has warned of large-scale retaliation if Baku launches any military action.
Nikolai Bordyuzha, the general secretary of the CSTO -- whose members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- told the conference that the organisation opposed any attempts to resolve the Karabakh conflict by force.
Moscow is Yerevan's main economic and military partner, and the Armenian parliament last month ratified a deal to allow Russia to maintain a military base in the country until 2044.
Officials said that it would ensure Armenia's security and protect Russian interests in the former Soviet region where the Kremlin wants to play a leading role.
© 2011 AFP