Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Russia hits back at Armenian PM over Caucasus

Moscow does not intend to abandon Armenia or the South Caucasus region, contrary to what Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claims, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stressed.

“Russia continues to play an important role in stabilizing and de-conflicting this region” and it will continue doing so in the future, Peskov told journalists on Tuesday.

The press secretary was responding to comments made by Pashinyan in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Sunday, in which the prime minister lamented that – despite Moscow’s complaints about the West trying to push it out of Armenia – “we see that Russia is itself abandoning the [South Caucasus] region.”

The PM went so far as to state that “we may wake up one day and see that Russia isn’t here anymore.”

Pashinyan also blamed Russian peacekeepers for “being unable or unwilling” to exercise control over the Lachin corridor, which links the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenian territory.

In 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a 44-day war for control over Nagorno-Karabakh – a section of Azerbaijani territory that has a predominantly ethnic Armenian population – which declared independence from Baku in the early 1990s. The fighting ended with a Moscow-brokered truce that involved deploying Russian peacekeepers to the area. However, clashes continue to flare up between the two former Soviet republics.

“We deeply respect Pashinyan” and expect his “constructive working relationship” with Russian President Vladimir Putin “to remain the key to close cooperation between the two countries,” Peskov stated, adding, “But we can’t agree with the points made by the prime minister.”

“Russia is an integral part of this region. Therefore, it can’t go anywhere. And Russia can’t abandon Armenia,” he insisted.

The Kremlin spokesman also noted that “there are more Armenians living in Russia than in Armenia itself. Most of them are exemplary and patriotic Russian citizens.”

Given the circumstances, it is paramount for Armenia and Azerbaijan to remain committed to the trilateral agreements that were reached after the 2020 conflict, Peskov explained, as “adhering to those agreements is the key to success.”

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