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Russia Accuses France of Escalating South Caucasus Tensions with Armenian Arms Deal

WorldRussiaRussia Accuses France of Escalating South Caucasus Tensions with Armenian Arms Deal

Paris and Yerevan Strengthen Ties Amid Growing Tensions in South Caucasus

Russia has accused France of exacerbating tensions in the South Caucasus following a recent arms deal in which Paris agreed to sell artillery systems to Armenia.

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This development marks a significant shift in Armenia’s geopolitical strategy, signaling its growing inclination towards Western alliances amidst strained relations with its traditional ally, Moscow.

Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, lambasted the deal during a press briefing on Wednesday. “Paris is provoking another round of armed confrontation in the South Caucasus, and they are doing it in different ways.

This [sale] is another step,” Zakharova declared. Her remarks were echoed by Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, which condemned France for its “policy of militarization and geopolitical intrigue” and for “preventing the normalization of relations” between Yerevan and Baku.

The controversy centers on Armenia’s acquisition of French-made CAESAR self-propelled howitzers, a move perceived by Moscow and Baku as destabilizing.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry issued a stern statement accusing the Armenian leadership of “political irresponsibility” and promoting “revanchism,” which they claim paves the way for renewed conflict.

This arms deal is part of a broader context of shifting alliances and rising tensions in the South Caucasus. Armenia’s decision to fortify its military capabilities with Western support comes after a series of disillusionments with Russia.

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Notably, Armenian authorities have expressed frustration over Russian peacekeepers’ inaction during Azerbaijan’s military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2023. This perceived abandonment has driven Armenia to seek new security partnerships beyond the traditional Russian sphere of influence.

The Armenian government has not shied away from showcasing its intention to diversify its security alliances. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has emphasized the need for Armenia to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity through enhanced military cooperation with Western nations. The purchase of CAESAR howitzers is a tangible manifestation of this strategic pivot.

For France, the deal represents an extension of its influence in the South Caucasus, a region marked by historical volatility and strategic importance.

French officials have framed the arms sale as part of a legitimate effort to support Armenia’s self-defense capabilities amidst a fragile security environment. However, critics argue that such moves could exacerbate existing conflicts rather than foster stability.

The reverberations of this deal are likely to be felt across the region. Russia, which views the South Caucasus as part of its traditional sphere of influence, perceives any Western encroachment as a direct challenge to its regional hegemony.

Moscow’s strong reaction underscores its concerns about losing strategic footholds in the face of expanding Western influence. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, remains wary of any actions that could disrupt the delicate balance of power in the region.

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The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a long-standing territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, is unresolved despite various ceasefire agreements. Any significant shift in military capabilities or alliances could potentially reignite hostilities, making diplomatic resolution even more elusive.

As Armenia continues to navigate its complex geopolitical landscape, the implications of its burgeoning relationship with France will be closely watched by regional and global powers alike.

The South Caucasus, already a tinderbox of ethnic and political tensions, now faces additional uncertainties as external powers vie for influence and local actors recalibrate their strategic alliances.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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