“We can see what unprecedented pressure brotherly Armenia is facing from abroad,” the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said late on Monday in written comments on what she called “alarming trends” gaining momentum in the region.
“Numerous foundations, NGOs and the media acting at the behest of Washington and Brussels are striving with a vengeance to plant anti-Russian sentiment in [Armenian] society,” she charged. “We are convinced that attempts by external forces to cause a rift between Moscow and Yerevan will not be successful.”
Zakharova pointed to “baseless allegations” that Moscow is not fulfilling its security obligations to Yerevan stemming from bilateral treaties as well as Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Senior Armenian officials added their voice to such allegations following the September 13-14 fighting on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan which left more than 200 Armenian soldiers dead. They have criticized Russia and the CSTO for not providing any military aid to Armenia or even condemning Azerbaijan’s offensive military operations launched at several sections of the frontier.
An Armenian newspaper belonging to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s family claimed earlier this month that Moscow is trying to annex Armenia or make it part of the Russia-Belarus union by encouraging Azerbaijani military aggression against its main regional ally.
Vigen Khachatrian, a senior lawmaker from Pashinian’s Civil Contract party, scoffed at Zakharova’s statement on Tuesday. He also said that Yerevan must now “revise” Russian-Armenian relations because Moscow is not a reliable ally.
“If Russia has problems with the West, let it try to solve them, but not in Armenia and at the expense of Armenia,” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Despite being our strategic ally, it does not bother to demand that Azerbaijan withdraw troops from Armenia’s sovereign territory.”
“Instead of calling the Armenian people ‘brotherly,” Maria Zakharova should demand that the brotherly Azerbaijani people withdraw troops,” he said.
Zakharova did not directly respond to the unprecedented Armenian criticism, lambasting the United States and the European Union instead. She also denounced the Western powers’ “hastily concocted initiatives that do not take into account the interests of the entire population of the region.”
It was not clear whether she referred to Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population seriously concerned about an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty promoted by the West. She warned of a “disruption of the balance” established through the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 war in Karabakh.
“The true goals of Washington and Brussels are not the development of compromise and balanced solutions but self-promotion and squeezing Russia out of the Transcaucasus,” added the Russian official. This, she said, would also mean the removal of Russian peacekeeping forces from Karabakh.
The US and the EU have played the central mediating role in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks held in recent months. Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met together with French President Emmanuel Macron and EU chief Charles Michel in Prague on October 6.
Russia is now trying to regain the initiative in the international peace efforts. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a trilateral meeting with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on October 14 shortly before President Vladimir Putin offered to host another Armenian-Azerbaijani summit.
“Such a summit is being prepared for,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Tuesday. “The Kremlin will provide additional information about its date and venue.”