Senior lawmakers representing Pashinian’s Civil Contract party hit out at Russia during an emergency session of Armenia’s parliament on Wednesday. One of them, Vigen Khachatrian, said Moscow ordered the peacekeepers not to prevent or end the road blockade in an effort to clinch geopolitical concessions from Yerevan.
Another Civil Contract deputy, Gagik Melkonian, alleged that the Russians are trying to restore Azerbaijani control over Karabakh and force Armenia to join their “union state” with Belarus.
The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected “unfounded accusations and provocative actions against the Russian peacekeepers” when it called for an end to the road blockade on Thursday. A ministry spokeswoman insisted that they are “accomplishing their tasks effectively.”
“We express our gratitude to the Russian peacekeepers for remaining true to their mission,” Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, said in a statement posted on Facebook. “For days, the peacekeepers have been standing by the people of Artsakh with a firm and unwavering attitude, without succumbing to [Azerbaijan’s] provocations, demonstrative insults and contemptuous attitudes.”
“We highly appreciate the conscious steps taken by the peacekeepers to alleviate the humanitarian problems of our people,” added Harutiunian. “We will continue our struggle and will never be a tool to put pressure on the Russian Federation or damage its reputation because we are confident that the Russian Federation has the irrevocable will to solve problems diplomatically and through dialogue.”
Russia deployed the 2,000-strong military contingent in Karabakh following the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service last week, another Karabakh Armenian leader called for a UN Security Council authorization of the Russian peacekeeping mission.
Pashinian said earlier that during his October 31 meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi he proposed that Yerevan and Baku extend the peacekeepers’ five-year mandate. He said Aliyev rejected the proposal.
Azerbaijani officials regularly emphasize that the Russian troops are stationed in Karabakh on a temporary basis. Baku has been trying to regain full control over the territory.