YEREVAN (AFP) – Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Thursday (July 29) he would request the deployment of Russian border guards along his country’s frontier with Azerbaijan to prevent further escalation after new clashes.
Last year Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six-week war over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The conflict claimed some 6,500 lives and ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire that saw Armenia cede territories it had controlled for decades.
In recent months tensions have been running high over the two countries’ shared border.
On Wednesday, three Armenian soldiers were killed in fresh border clashes with Azerbaijani forces, in some of the heaviest fighting between the Caucasus rivals since last year’s war.
Addressing a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Pashinyan said he wanted to ask Moscow for more help.
“I think it makes sense to consider the question of stationing outposts of Russian border guards along the entire stretch of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” he said.
Pashinyan said the move will help the two countries “carry out work on demarcation and delimitation of the border without the risk of military clashes.”
“We are planning to discuss the matter with our Russian colleagues.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman declined to comment on Pashinyan’s planned proposal. “Contacts with Yerevan are continuing, I have nothing more to say,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
He also said Russia was involved in efforts to calm new tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“Work is continuing to ensure the full implementation of the bilateral agreements,” he said.
After the new clashes both countries traded accusations of initiating the fighting before a ceasefire was agreed upon with Russia’s help.
After the war Armenia has accused Azerbaijani forces of a series of border intrusions and of seizing pockets of territory including along a lake shared by the two countries.
The new border clashes have raised fears of a fresh flare-up in tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan that broke away from Baku’s control in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Moscow, which has a military base in Armenia, has deployed some 2,000 peacekeepers in and around Karabakh to oversee the ceasefire.
Pashinyan has earlier asked Putin for military support, saying up to 600 Azerbaijani troops are stationed on Armenian territory, a claim denied by Baku.
Russia has offered to help resolve the border disputes by working with the two sides to clearly define the borders.
The United States and France have called on Azerbaijan to pull back its forces.
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