ARMENIA SAYS WILL CONTINUE RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE 'REGARDLESS OF UKRAINIANS' CHOICE'

http://armenianow.com/news/52388/armenia_ukraine_relations_deputy_minister_shavarsh _kocharyan
NEWS | 03.03.14 | 11:10

Continued cooperation and relations in all spheres with Kiev meet the
interests of the Republic of Armenia, Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh
Kocharyan declared at the weekend, commenting on Yerevan's position on
the internal political events in Ukraine that, as it appears now, have
brought the eastern European nation to the brink of war with Russia.

"We deem that regardless of the choice of Ukraine our relations will
be continued," said Kocharyan in answer to a question by an RFE/RL
Armenian Service correspondent. The Armenian official, in particular,
was referring to the preterm general elections that have been appointed
in Ukraine after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych and the
formation of an interim government consisting of opposition members and
representatives of the Maidan - a pro-EU movement that launched street
protests in late November in response to the Ukrainian leadership's
decision not to sign an Association Agreement with Brussels.

The situation in Ukraine, which is home to a sizable Armenian community
unofficially numbering some 600,000, including both ethnic Armenian
citizens of Ukraine and citizens of Armenia working and staying there,
has been rapidly evolving over the weekend as separatist sentiments
have been on the rise in more pro-Russian eastern parts of the country
and especially in the Crimea, the southernmost peninsula that hosts
the Russian Black Sea Navy and has a predominantly ethnic Russian
population.

Since last Thursday the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has refused to
report to Kiev as control over this strategic region fully passed
to its pro-Russian leadership. The Russian military, meanwhile,
was deployed in the Crimean region as legislators in Moscow also
gave President Vladimir Putin wide powers for an armed invasion
of Ukraine at any moment to back the country's ethnic Russian and
Russian-speaking population.

The Western powers have called on Russia to pull back its forces
from Crimea and de-escalate the situation around Ukraine. But Moscow
insists on its right to get involved if the situation around Crimea
and other parts of Ukraine becomes dangerous for Russian citizens or
ethnic Russians living there.

Armenia, which is Russia's military ally under a defense pact as
part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), has not
presented its official position on the escalation of the situation
in Ukraine yet.

Despite membership in the CSTO, Armenia was not involved in a similar
conflict that Russia had with Georgia back in 2008.