Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attends a news briefing in Moscow, April 22, 2021

MOSCOW (Azatutyun) — Russia has accused the European Union of trying to squeeze it out of the South Caucasus, reacting to the deployment of some 100 EU monitors to Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on February 21 insisted that the monitoring mission, officially launched on Monday, February 20, will not reduce the risk of fresh fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

“Unfortunately, it is not the first time we have recorded the desire of the European Union and the West as a whole to gain a foothold in our ally Armenia by any means,” the ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said in written comments.

“We see in these attempts a purely geopolitical background which is far from the interests of a real normalization of relations in the Transcaucasus. Everything is being done to squeeze Russia out of the region and weaken its historical role as the main guarantor of security,” she charged.

Zakharova reiterated the official Russian line that Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements brokered by Moscow during and after the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh will remain “the key factor of stability and security in the region in the foreseeable future.”

Moscow already condemned the EU member states in late January just days after they formally approved the monitoring mission requested by Armenia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also rebuked Yerevan for refusing a similar mission offered by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in November.

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Armenia, a CSTO member, has repeatedly accused the Russian-led military alliance of failing to defend it against Azerbaijani “military aggression.”

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan praised the EU for sending the observers when he met with the head of the monitoring mission, Markus Ritter, and another senior EU official on Monday. Mirzoyan expressed confidence that the mission will make an “important contribution” to regional stability and the security of Armenian border areas.

The EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, similarly tweeted that the monitors “will contribute to human security, build confidence on the ground and support EU efforts in the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

The EU deployment underscores growing friction between Moscow and Yerevan. Russian-Armenian relations have soured recently also because of Azerbaijan’s continuing blockade of Karabakh’s land link with Armenia.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly accused Russian peacekeepers of doing little to unblock the vital road. Moscow has rejected the accusations.


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