France has pledged to provide military assistance to Armenia after the country regained control over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna announced the delivery of unspecified military equipment during her visit to Armenia on Tuesday. While she did not provide specific details about the arrangement, Colonna stated that France has agreed to future contracts with Armenia to ensure its defense.
Colonna’s visit also included a stop at a Yerevan hospital where she announced that France would accept four Armenians who were injured in a fuel explosion in Nagorno-Karabakh. The blast, which occurred last week, resulted in the death of at least 170 people and injured around 300.
The timing of France’s military assistance and humanitarian support comes after Azerbaijan successfully reclaimed control over Nagorno-Karabakh in a swift “counterterrorism” operation. The operation, launched on September 19, lasted for approximately 24 hours. As part of the ceasefire agreement, the ethnic Armenian enclave dissolved itself on September 28, and more than 100,000 Armenian civilians fled to the east, accounting for nearly 90% of the estimated population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Notably, throughout the conflict, the Armenian government maintained a passive role, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s administration recognizing and affirming Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh on multiple occasions. However, Pashinyan’s government also attempted to shift blame onto Russia for their loss and made overtures to NATO.
The original armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended in 1994 with a Russia-mediated ceasefire. At that time, ethnic Armenians controlled most of the Soviet-era Nagorno-Karabakh autonomy, along with several surrounding regions of Azerbaijan. However, in 2020, Azerbaijan struck back, utilizing Turkish weaponry purchased with oil and gas revenue. Following a month-long battle, Azerbaijani forces gained control over a significant portion of Nagorno-Karabakh and severed the main road connecting the breakaway enclave with Armenia. The conflict concluded with Yerevan ceding all previously held Azerbaijani territory, leaving the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh up for negotiation. Additionally, Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the area as part of the 2020 ceasefire agreement.
In light of these recent developments, France’s commitment to providing military assistance to Armenia demonstrates its support for the country’s defense efforts. While the specific details of the military equipment delivery remain undisclosed, it signifies a strategic partnership between France and Armenia in the midst of a complex regional conflict. Similarly, France’s decision to accept Armenian survivors of the fuel explosion illustrates its commitment to providing humanitarian aid to those affected by the violence in Nagorno-Karabakh.
As the situation in the region continues to evolve, it remains crucial for international actors to support diplomatic efforts towards a lasting resolution. France’s involvement through military and humanitarian assistance indicates its commitment to promoting stability and peace in Nagorno-Karabakh.