U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried denied at the weekend Russian claims that the United States as well as France stopped that cooperation following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She said that the OSCE Minsk Group co-headed by the three mediating powers remains a “very important format” for brokering an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord.
“France, the U.S. and Russia would continue in that format,” Donfried told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
“I would like to allow myself to doubt the sincerity of Karen Donfried's statement,” said Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. “If Washington and Paris really considered the unique mediating format of the Minsk Group important, they would not allow themselves to neglect the mandate approved by all participating states.”
Zakharova claimed that the U.S. and France froze the work of the Minsk Group and caused it “irreparable damage” as part of their broader attempts to isolate Russia on the international stage.
“There is no guarantee that such irresponsible actions will not be repeated,” she told reporters in Moscow. “Pretending that nothing happened just won't work. New realities must be taken into account.”
Russia has also been irked by the European Union’s separate Karabakh peace efforts that intensified after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the EU of seeking to sideline his country and use the Karabakh conflict in the standoff over Ukraine.
A senior EU diplomat insisted earlier this month that the 27-nation bloc is “not engaged in any kind of competition” with Moscow in the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process.
In recent weeks, Armenia’s leaders have called for renewed joint activities of U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. By contrast, Azerbaijani officials and President Ilham Aliyev in particular have repeatedly questioned the need for the group’s continued existence.
Lavrov is scheduled to fly to Baku on Thursday for talks with Aliyev and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.