(Reuters) - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in an interview published on Sunday that his country was not an ally of Russia in its war against Ukraine, but he stressed that its military cooperation projects were not directed against any one country.
Pashinyan also said he hoped Armenia's neighbor and longtime rival, Azerbaijan, would remain committed to concluding a durable peace treaty despite its president's statements about the demarcation of borders.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought two major wars in the last 30 years over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region has long been recognized as part of Azerbaijan and Azeri troops took full control of it last September.
Pashinyan has said in recent months that Armenia can no longer rely on Russia to ensure its defense needs because his country has not received the necessary help from Moscow.
In comments to Britain's Daily Telegraph, Pashinyan said he had said from the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 that he could not stand with Moscow as an ally.
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"I said, in the situation in Ukraine, we are not Russia's allies. And this is the reality," Pashinyan told the daily.
"But I also want to tell you that our security cooperation, whether with the US or France or other partners, is not targeted against our other security sector partners."
He said Armenia is approaching the concept of relationships on its security alliances by "talking with our partners with full transparency about their shared agenda."
And Armenia has no intention of considering NATO membership, he said – as Ukraine has reaffirmed and Russia has said is unacceptable. NATO membership "is not a question we have discussed or are discussing".
He reiterated that Armenia is considering whether to remain in the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.
On the prospects for a long-term peace deal with Azerbaijan, Pashinyan said the "fundamental structure" of the agreement was reached last year and at the end of last year, we felt like we were finally very close. Final text of the agreement".
But Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, re-elected by a landslide last week, raised questions after saying in an interview in January that his troops would not retreat from border areas. He also rejected the use of Soviet-era maps in talks because he said territorial concessions were made to Armenia in the last century.
(Reporting by Ron Popsky; Editing by Dianne Craft)
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