YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — The US State Department has called for the dispatch of an international monitoring mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and effectively backed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s claims that Russia cannot guarantee Armenia’s security.

“ I do think that Russia has shown that it is not a security partner that can be relied on,” Matthew Miller, the department spokesman, told a news briefing in Washington on Monday, September 25, commenting on the ongoing war of words between Yerevan and Moscow.

Tensions between the two long-time allies deepened earlier this month after Pashinyan stated that Armenia’s reliance on Russia for defense and security has proved a “strategic mistake” because the latter is “unable or unwilling” to defend the South Caucasus nation.

The Armenian premier doubled down on his criticism following Azerbaijan’s September 19 offensive in Karabakh launched despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers there. He said on Sunday that the military alliance with Russia is not enough to ensure Armenia’s national security.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by accusing Pashinyan of seeking to ruin bilateral ties and reorient Armenia towards the West. Russian officials have repeatedly charged that the United States and the European Union are eager to drive Russia out of the South Caucasus.

Pashinyan and his political allies have so far not signaled plans to get Armenia out of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) or other Russian-led blocs. Nor have they indicated any alternative geopolitical arrangements which they believe can protect Armenia’s borders.

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Miller reaffirmed US support for Armenia’s territorial integrity but declined to clarify what Washington could do if it is jeopardized by Azerbaijan. ”What we think is important is that Armenia and Azerbaijan reach a lasting peace agreement,” he said in this regard.

Miller also reiterated US concerns about the fate of Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population severely affected by last week’s Azerbaijani assault.

“The population of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh should be able to remain in their homes in peace and dignity, with respect for their rights and security if they choose to do so,” he said. ”Those who want to leave and return should be allowed safe passage overseen by a neutral, independent third party.”

“We do believe there should be an international mission to provide transparency, reassurance, and confidence to the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh and the international community, that … their rights and security will be protected consistent with the public statements that Azerbaijan has made,” added the US official.

Yerevan advanced the idea of such a mission even before the latest escalation. Baku strongly opposed it.


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