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Armenia expects Russian support in Karabakh war

YEREVAN - Agence France-Presse | 5/20/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Armenia is counting on support from its ex-Soviet military allies, including Russia, if war breaks out with Azerbaijan, the defense minister said Thursday.

Armenia is counting on support from its ex-Soviet military allies, including Russia, if war breaks out with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, the defense minister said Thursday.

A member of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO, which has been touted as a post-Soviet answer to NATO, Armenia is locked in an increasingly tense dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“Given Armenia’s membership in the CSTO, we can count on an appropriate response and the support of our allies in the organization, who have specific responsibilities to each other and the ability to react adequately to potential aggression,” Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian told a security conference in Yerevan.

A flashpoint of the Caucasus, the Nagorno-Karabakh region is a constituent part of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia since the end of 1994. While internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, the enclave has declared itself an independent republic but is administered as a de facto part of Armenia.

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 organization 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 this would ensure Armenia’s security and protect Russian interests in the former Soviet region, where the Kremlin wants to play a leading role.

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