In a further sign of rising tensions between the two allied countries, it also accused Pashinian of making contradictory statements on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and again criticized Yerevan for cancelling a planned meeting of the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian foreign ministers.
Pashinian questioned the need to maintain close military ties with Moscow at a news conference on Tuesday. He said Azerbaijani attributes its “aggressive actions” against Armenia to a perceived threat emanating from the Russian-Armenian alliance. He said Moscow’s reluctance to counter those actions means that “Russia’s military presence in Armenia not only doesn’t guarantee Armenia’s security but on the contrary creates threats to Armenia’s security.”
“Statements from Yerevan that the Russian presence creates some threats to Armenia’s security are absurd,” the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told a news briefing. “For decades our military and border guards have been making significant contributions to Armenia’s security, guarding its borders.”
“Armenia’s current leadership publicly stated earlier that the Russian military presence corresponds to the republic’s national interests, and the adventurists calling for the expulsion of our troops clearly do not realize what real consequences such a step would have,” she said.
Armenian leaders have repeatedly accused Moscow of ignoring, in breach of Russian-Armenian treaties, Yerevan’s appeals for military support made during Baku’s offensive military operations along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
Friction between Yerevan and Moscow has deepened during Azerbaijan’s month-long blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh’s sole land link with Armenia supposedly controlled by Russian peacekeeping forces. Late last month, Pashinian complained that the peacekeepers are doing little to unblock the vital road.
Armenian pro-government lawmakers went farther, alleging that Moscow is using the blockade to try to force Armenia to join the “union state” of Russia and Belarus. Armen Grigorian, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, effectively echoed their allegations, prompting angry Russian rebuttals.
In a separate, written statement issued on Thursday, Zakharova said “the situation over the Lachin Corridor” was on the agenda of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s meeting with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts slated for December 23. She rebuked Yerevan for cancelling the trilateral talks “at the last minute” in protest against the Azerbaijani blockade.
Zakharova also scoffed at what she called contradictory statements on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty made by Pashinian during his news conference.
“The prime minister of Armenia spoke about his intention to sign a document based on Russian proposals and at the same time about his preference for some kind of ‘comprehensive solution’ to the conflict promoted by the West,” she said.
“If the Armenian partners are really interested in solving the identified problems in line with the comprehensive implementation of tripartite agreements [reached by Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan] at the highest level, then they should continue joint work instead of engaging in scholasticism,” added the Russian official.