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Russian Border Guards Leave Armenia’s Nerkin Hand Village, Syunik Province Governor Confirms


Russian Border Guards Leave Armenia’s Nerkin Hand Village, Syunik Province Governor Confirms

Russian border guards have left Nerkin Hand village in Armenia’s Syunik Province, as confirmed by Syunik Governor Robert Ghukasyan. This marks a significant shift in the region's security dynamics following the 2020 Artsakh war.


Departure of Russian Border Guards


Governor Ghukasyan informed reporters that Russian border guards, who had been stationed in Nerkin Hand after the 44-day war in 2020, have now vacated the village. "They have left from where they were stationed after the 44-day war, they have left from Nerkin Hand as well; now there are no Russian border guards there," Ghukasyan said.


When asked about other areas where Russian border guards might still be present, Ghukasyan could not provide a definite answer. He mentioned that in some locations, a partial withdrawal might be in progress, with some guards remaining temporarily. "I can't say for sure, but they have left Nerkin Hand," he added.


Withdrawal Agreement and Broader Implications


The withdrawal of Russian border guards from certain regions of Armenia was agreed upon during a meeting on May 9 between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. This agreement marks a significant development in the relations between the two countries. The Kremlin confirmed that hundreds of Russian soldiers would stand down from their positions along Armenia’s borders.


Hayk Konjoryan, the parliamentary leader of Armenia’s governing Civil Contract party, announced on May 9 that an agreement had been reached to withdraw Russian border guards from the regions of Tavush, Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Gegharkunik, and Ararat, which are along the tense frontier with Azerbaijan. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed that the withdrawal had been discussed during the meeting.


Strained Relations and Shifts in Alliances


In recent years, relations between Moscow and Armenia have reached historic lows. The Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), of which Armenia is a member, refused to intervene when Azerbaijan launched an offensive against Armenia in September 2022. Additionally, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan accused Russian peacekeepers of abandoning their posts during an Azerbaijani offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, which led to a mass exodus of 120,000 ethnic Armenians.


Armenia’s foreign ministry has announced that the country will no longer make financial contributions to the CSTO, effectively freezing its membership. The CSTO includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. In contrast, Armenia has been strengthening its ties with the West, holding joint drills with U.S. forces, providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and even hinting at potential future membership in the European Union.


Armenian Government


Prime Minister Pashinyan has also pursued a border demarcation and delimitation agreement with Azerbaijan, which includes the handover of four villages in Armenia’s Tavush region. This move indicates the Armenian government’s strategy to avoid war in efforts to stabilize its borders while Azerbaijan continues its threats and occupation within sovereign Armenian territories.

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