Dmitry Peskov

Russia Warns Armenia After Pashinyan’s ‘Unacceptable Attacks’

299
0

By Aza Babayan and Astghik Bedevian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Russia accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of seeking to ruin Russian-Armenian relations and reorient his country towards the West on Monday as it rejected his claims that Moscow has failed to protect Nagorno-Karabakh’s population against ethnic cleansing and guarantee Armenia’s security.

“We are convinced that the Yerevan leadership is making a huge mistake by deliberately trying to destroy the multifaceted and centuries-old ties between Armenia and Russia and making the country a hostage to geopolitical games of the West,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on September 25.

In a weekend address to the nation, Pashinyan held the Russians responsible for the exodus of Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population resulting from last week’s Azerbaijani military offensive. He also declared that the military alliance with Russia and membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) are not enough to ensure Armenia’s national security. Moscow is now also intent on ending the South Caucasus country’s independence, he charged.

The Russian Foreign Ministry hit back at the Armenian premier in equally strong terms. It dismissed his “unacceptable attacks” as an attempt to “relieve himself of responsibility for failures in domestic and foreign policy by shifting the blame to Moscow.”

“Russia has always been faithful to its allied obligations, respected Armenian statehood and never confronted the republic with a choice. with us or against us,” he said in a statement.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

The statement blamed the Azerbaijani offensive on Pashinyan’s controversial decision to recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh during October 2022 and May 2023 talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev organized by the European Union. ”This fundamentally changed … the position of the Russian peacekeeping contingent [in Karabakh,]” it said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov “categorically” disagreed with Pashinyan’s criticism of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh. ”The Russian peacekeepers show real heroism in performing their duties according to their mandate,” he said.

Peskov also said that Moscow still regards Yerevan as an ally and will continue its “dialogue” with Pashinyan.

The Armenian premier on Sunday stopped short of announcing his country’s impending exit from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) or other Russian-led blocs. He said Yerevan will continue to reform the Armenian army and seek to formalize Armenian-Azerbaijani understandings brokered by the European Union.

Sargis Khandanyan, the chairman of the Armenian parliamentary committee on foreign relations, was also vague on this score when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Monday. He said only that the Armenian government will “think and figure out how to reinforce our security mechanisms.”

“We cannot talk about a specific [alternative] security system at this point because it’s a complex and long process,” Khandanyan said when asked about geopolitical alternatives considered by Yerevan.

The pro-government lawmaker also echoed Pashinyan’s implicit allegations that Moscow is fomenting ongoing protests in Yerevan organized by Armenian opposition groups in a bid to topple him. He said anti-Pashinyan statements by Russian politicians and commentators constitute “interference in Armenia’s internal affairs.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry statement insisted that Moscow is not behind the daily anti-government protests. It said they were sparked by Armenians’ “understandable discontent” with Pashinyan’s “irresponsible” policies.

Russian-Armenian relations have already worsened significantly in the run-up to the Azerbaijani offensive in Karabakh launched on September 19. Pashinyan declared that Armenia’s long-standing reliance on Russia has proven a “strategic mistake.” The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Armenia’s ambassador on September 8 to protest against this and other “unfriendly steps” taken by Yerevan.

 

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: