Ambassador Sergei Kopyrkin

Russian Envoy Downplays Rift With Armenia


By Anush Mkrtchian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Russia and Armenia will remain close allies despite unprecedented friction between them, the Russian ambassador in Yerevan, Sergei Kopyrkin, said on Monday, April 10.

“There can be differences of opinion and evaluation between us, that’s normal,” Kopyrkin told reporters. “The volume of our relations is such that there may arise practical issues on which the parties have differing positions. But on the whole, I am confident that what unites us remains and will be reinforced. Our relations were, are and will be allies.”

Those relations have deteriorated in the last several months mainly because of what Yerevan sees as Moscow’s lack of support for its main South Caucasus ally in the conflict with Azerbaijan.

The rift between the two nations deepened further late last month after Armenia’s Constitutional Court gave the green light for parliamentary ratification of the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty. The ruling followed an arrest warrant issued by the ICC for Russian President Vladimir Putin over war crimes allegedly committed by Russia in Ukraine.

Moscow warned on March 27 that recognition of The Hague tribunal’s jurisdiction would have “extremely negative” consequences for Russian-Armenian relations. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government has since given no indications that it will press ahead with sending the treaty to the Armenian parliament for ratification.

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Pashinyan and Putin spoke by phone on Friday for the fourth time in two months. According to the Armenian readout of the call, they discussed regional security, bilateral ties and “other developments taking place in them.”

According to the official Armenian readout of the call, Pashinyan raised with Putin the “humanitarian crisis” in Karabakh resulting from the four-month blockade.

“In the context of overcoming the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian prime minister emphasized the importance of consistent steps by the Russian peacekeeping mission,” said the statement.

The Kremlin reported that the two leaders “continued the discussion of various aspects of the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh” and reaffirmed their commitment to Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements brokered by Moscow during and after the 2020 war. It was their fourth phone conversation in two months.

Armenian leaders have repeatedly accused Russian peacekeepers of doing little to unblock the sole road connecting Karabakh to Armenia. Moscow has rejected the criticism. It has called for an end to the blockade.

Pashinyan phoned Putin three days after meeting in Yerevan with Alexei Overchuk, a Russian deputy prime minister mediating negotiations on restoring transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Kopyrkin said Pashinyan and Overchuk held “constructive” talks on the “entire complex of issues related to the region and their settlement.” The diplomat did not elaborate.

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