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A close Russian ally snubbed Putin by announcing military exercises with the US — the latest in a series of embarrassments for the president

putin armenia
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at the CSTO welcoming ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia, in November 2022.Contributor/Getty Images
  • Armenia will host a joint military exercise with the US later this month.

  • The country is a longtime Russian ally but has repeatedly expressed its frustration with it.

  • This includes threatening to leave the Russia-led CSTO and refusing to host its military drills.

Armenia, long considered a close Russian ally, will host a joint military exercise with the US later this month, the latest in a series of apparent snubs by the country toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Armenia's defense ministry said the exercise, named "Eagle Partner 2023," is designed to help prepare its forces to join international peacekeeping missions, and will take place between September 11 and 20.

A US military spokesperson told Reuters that 85 US soldiers and 175 Armenian soldiers will take part in the exercise.

Russia and Armenia have a decadeslong relationship, with Armenia once being part of the Soviet Union and now part of many Russia-led international groups. Armenia also hosts a Russian military base.

But Armenia's frustration with Russia has been evident over the past two years.

Armenia asked the CSTO, Russia's equivalent of NATO, of which it is a member, for assistance during recent border clashes with neighboring Azerbaijan. The Russia-led alliance didn't send military help, angering the country's prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan.

Pashinyan called the response "depressing" and "hugely damaging to the CSTO's image both in our country and abroad" and he physically distanced himself from Putin in a group photo and refused to sign a draft declaration during a summit.

In May, he said Armenia could leave the alliance if its benefits to his country weren't proven.

In January, Armenia canceled military drills with Russia, and in June Pashinyan said that his country was "not Russia's ally in the war with Ukraine" and that it felt trapped in the middle between Russia and the West.

Pashinyan said this month that relying on one nation to provide security, in his case Russia, was a "strategic mistake."

Experts have told Insider that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated former Soviet Union member countries' frustrations with Russia, sparking doubts in those countries over whether Russia could protect them, and even fears they could become Russian targets themselves.

The invasion has accelerated the weakening of Russia's influence in the region, boosting Chinese and Turkey's efforts there, Thomas Graham, cofounder of Yale University's Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies program, told Insider.

Jaroslava Barbieri, an expert on Russia and post-Soviet states at the University of Birmingham, told Insider that Russia's regional reputation as a security provider has been left "in tatters."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the latest development was concerning, "especially in the current situation. Therefore, we will deeply analyse this news and monitor the situation," according to Reuters.

Read the original article on Business Insider