The US and Armenian militaries are set to conduct joint exercises later this month, with a particular focus on peacekeeping operations, as announced by Yerevan. Armenia, which is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), has expressed dissatisfaction with the bloc’s inability to protect it against alleged Azerbaijani aggression in the South Caucasus.
The Armenian Defense Ministry released a statement on Wednesday, stating that the drills with the US will be held as part of the country’s preparation for participation in international peacekeeping missions. The exercises are scheduled to take place in Armenia from September 11 to 20. During the drills, military personnel will practice measures to stabilize the situation between belligerents.
The purpose of these exercises, according to the ministry, is to enhance the interoperability of the Armenian military unit in international peacekeeping missions. Armenian military officials also view these drills as another step within the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. The PfP initiative aims to facilitate practical cooperation between NATO and partner countries, improving their ability to operate together in NATO-led operations.
While there have been calls for Armenia to join NATO, Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan stated that his country is ready to continue its cooperation with the alliance, but it has not yet received an invitation to join, and accession is not currently on the agenda.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, voiced concerns about Russia’s role in the South Caucasus region, alleging that Moscow is abandoning the area. Specifically, Pashinyan criticized Russian peacekeepers for their alleged inability or unwillingness to exert control over the Lachin corridor, which connects the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenian territory.
In response to Pashinyan’s remarks, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov emphasized that Russia is an integral part of the region and cannot simply leave. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory with a predominantly Armenian population that declared independence from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, resulted in a 44-day war in 2020. The conflict was resolved through a Moscow-brokered truce, which involved the deployment of Russian peacekeepers to the area.
These joint exercises between the US and Armenia aim to enhance their military cooperation and interoperability, particularly in the context of peacekeeping operations. As Armenia seeks to strengthen its ties with NATO through the PfP program, the drills provide an opportunity for Armenian military units to gain valuable experience and skills in working alongside NATO forces. The exercises also underscore Armenia’s commitment to international peacekeeping efforts.
Amid ongoing tensions in the South Caucasus, Armenia’s participation in these exercises with the US sends a message about the country’s determination to defend its interests and contribute to regional stability. As the geopolitical dynamics in the region continue to evolve, Armenia remains engaged in efforts to enhance its defense capabilities and partnerships with countries like the US.