The EU launched Monday a civilian mission to help monitor Armenia’s volatile border with Azerbaijan, bolstering the bloc’s role in a region viewed by the Kremlin as Russia’s backyard.
The move comes as Moscow — focused on its war in Ukraine — has been losing influence after decades of domination over its neighborhood.
Brussels said it hoped to “contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia, build confidence on the ground, and ensure an environment conducive to normalisation efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
“The establishment of an EU Mission in Armenia launches a new phase in the EU’s engagement in the South Caucasus,” foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
The initiative was requested by Armenia and expands upon a 40-strong mission that was deployed for two months late last year.
The new mission has a two-year mandate and will conduct “routine patrolling and report on the situation,” an EU statement said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought in the early 1990s for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a conflict that left 30,000 dead and ended in an Armenian victory.
Baku took its revenge in a second war fought in 2021, which claimed the lives of 6,500 people, retaking swathes of territory.
Russian peacekeepers were deployed there after the 2021 conflict.
But Armenia has accused Russian soldiers of failing to prevent flare-ups in the fighting and stopping Azerbaijanis who are blockading its only land route to Nagorno-Karabakh.