For Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenia, in many ways, must offer a welcome contrast to Ukraine and its building protests against economic integration with Russia and its proposed trade bloc, the Customs Union.
The South Caucasus country, where Putin popped in for a visit on December 2, depends on Russia for energy, migrants’ jobs, border guards and security, among other needs, and opted out of closer ties with the European Union in favor of eventual economic merger with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
It also knows how to put on a Soviet-style show of homage for a leader openly nostalgic for the Soviet past.
It all adds up to a place where Russia would like to stay. In comments in Gyumri, the northern Armenian city which hosts the Russian military's 102nd army base, Putin stressed that Russia “never intended to leave the Transcaucasus” following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and sees no reason to do so now.
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