The Armenian government appealed for Russian military assistance just hours after Azerbaijani forces reportedly went on the offensive at various sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on the night from September 12-13. It asked Russia to “put into action” relevant articles of a Russian-Armenian treaty on mutual defense.
Moscow avoided military intervention in the two-day hostilities that killed more than 200 Armenian soldiers. While describing Armenia as a “close friend and strategic ally” of his country on September 22, Russian President Putin stopped short of voicing support for Yerevan and urged both sides to “show restraint.”
Moscow’s seemingly neutral stance prompted criticism from senior Armenian officials.
“I don’t agree that Russia is not providing assistance,” Kopyrkin told journalists. “Of course, in this tragic situation there can be different expectations. We understand that. But Russia is doing everything it can to ensure that the political settlement process that began with the statement of November 9, 2020 continues regardless of all problems and differences.”
The ambassador referred to the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenian leaders have also complained about what they see as a lack of Russian arms supplies to Armenia. In an apparent reference to Russia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian claimed earlier on Thursday that “our allies” have failed to deliver weapons to Armenia in breach of their contractual obligations. He did not elaborate.
On Wednesday, an Armenian pro-government lawmaker, Gagik Melkonian, said that the Armenian army has received no Russian weapons since the 2020 war.
Commenting on such criticism, Kopyrkin said: “This is a delicate question which must be answered by professionals.”
Kopyrkin spoke to the press as he and a group of other Yerevan-based foreign diplomats visited two border villages in Armenia’s Gegharkunik province which were heavily shelled by Azerbaijani forces on September 13-14. Most of their civilian residents, notably women and children, are still scared of returning to their homes.
The damage caused to one of those villages, Sotk, was particularly severe. About 150 of its houses were fully or partly destroyed by the shelling.
“Of course, all this is really tragic,” said Kopyrkin, who toured on Wednesday two other Armenian provinces also affected by the border clashes. “I saw the same picture in Jermuk and Goris. This further reinforces Russia’s position that the use of force is a path that cannot solve problems.”