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Moscow Rejects Criticism Of Russian Peacekeepers In Karabakh


Russian peacekeepers guard the area in the town of Lachin (file photo).

Russia does not consider “separate criticism” of its peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh to be fair, a senior diplomat in Moscow said on Thursday.

During a news briefing Ivan Nechayev, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, stressed that Russian peacekeepers in the region are engaged in efforts to stabilize the situation on the ground.

During last week’s weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian strongly criticized the Russian peacekeeping operation in Nagorno-Karabakh following the most serious fighting along the line of contact that left at least two Armenian and one Azerbaijani soldiers dead.

Pashinian urged Russia to do more to prevent further ceasefire violations, charging that Baku has been stepping up such violations despite the presence of Russian peacekeeping troops in the region.

“In these circumstances, it is becoming imperative to adjust details of the [Russian] peacekeeping operation in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pashinian said. “We expect that any attempt to cross the line of contact will be stopped by the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation.”

In an apparent reaction to this criticism, Nechayev said that “along with intensive political contacts Russian peacekeepers also continue to be engaged in active work, taking necessary efforts for stabilization on the ground.”

“Both Baku and Yerevan have before emphasized the important role of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. We do not consider separate criticism of the peacekeepers to be fair,” the diplomat added.

Nechayev also announced that Moscow plans to organize high-level trilateral contacts by the end of August on different subjects concerning the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

The representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the situation around the Lachin corridor should be resolved in accordance with the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020.

“Point 6 of the statement stipulates that the plan for the construction of a new route through the Lachin corridor, which will ensure a link between Karabakh and Armenia, should be determined with the agreement of the parties in the next three years, with the subsequent redeployment of Russian peacekeeping troops to maintain the security of the route,” he said.

The Armenian prime minister also insisted last week that the ceasefire agreement requires Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia to work out before 2024 only a plan for the construction of a new Armenia-Karabakh road. He emphasized that no such plan had been drawn up yet.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said, however, that the three sides did agree on the “route” of the new corridor early this year and accused Yerevan of dragging out construction work on its Armenian sections.

After the latest escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh the local ethnic Armenian authorities ordered the few remaining Armenian residents of villages situated along the current route of the Lachin corridor to leave their homes for good until August 25.

Incidentally, Azerbaijan announced on August 11 the completion of the construction of its section of the road bypassing Lachin. The Armenian side launched construction on its section of the road on August 1 and expects the work to be completed by spring. Until then, authorities say, people will have to fall back on unpaved roads for travel.

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