Armenia asks for Russian help amid tensions with Azerbaijan

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 7, 2021 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan pose for a photo during their meeting in Moscow, Russia. Armenia has on Friday, May 14, 2021 asked a Russia-dominated security pact of former Soviet nations to look into its tensions with Azerbaijan in the wake of their armed conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
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YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenia's prime minister said Friday he has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for military assistance amid simmering tensions with Azerbaijan in the wake of an armed conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The tug-of-war between the two South Caucasus neighbors exacerbated this week when Armenia protested what it described as Azerbaijani troops' incursion into its lands. Azerbaijan has insisted that its soldiers were deployed to what it considers its territory in areas where the border is yet to be demarcated.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told lawmakers that he asked Putin in a phone call to provide military assistance to Armenia.

Russia hasn't made any immediate comment on Pashinyan's statement. The Kremlin didn't mention the Armenian leader's request in its readout of his call with Putin late Thursday, but noted that the Russian leader emphasized the need to observe a cease-fire and solve all conflicting issues by diplomatic means.

Russia has a military base in Armenia, which is a member of the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization. At the same time, the Kremlin has sought to maintain friendly ties with oil-rich Azerbaijan.

More than 6,000 people were killed last fall in the six weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

The hostilities ended with a Russia-brokered peace deal in November allowing Azerbaijan to reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas, which Armenia-backed separatists controlled for more than 25 years.

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Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.