Kremlin, on NATO chief’s South Caucasus visit, says bloc’s expansion will not help stability

The Kremlin, making remarks on a visit by NATO head Jens Stoltenberg to the South Caucasus area, revealed on Tuesday that the bloc’s attempts to broaden its presence in the region were unlikely to help attract stability. Stoltenberg on Tuesday concluded a three-day visit during which he held conversations with the governers of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, all of which were previously governed from Moscow as part of the Soviet Union.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “NATO’s efforts to expand its influence and presence (in the South Caucasus) are unlikely to add to stability.” Armenia, just recently, Russia’s closest South Caucasus companion,  has found its ties with Moscow sour in past years over what Yerevan sees as Russia’s failure to save it from adjacent Azerbaijan.

Though Armenia remains a treaty ally of Russia, it has said repeatedly that it does not provide any help to Moscow’s war in Ukraine and has sent humanitarian aid to Kyiv, drawing Russia’s ire. In Yerevan on Tuesday, Stoltenberg appreciated the nation’s pro-Western Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for his “solidarity” with Ukraine.