Senior US officials visit Armenia after Nagorno-Karabakh operation

Senior US officials have arrived in Armenia after neighboring Azerbaijan launched a full-scale military operation last week in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region and forced the evacuation of thousands of ethnic Armenians.

Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is in Armenia along with State Department acting assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Yuri Kim.

Amidst heightened tensions, the visit of Power and Kim to Armenia has added a new layer of complexity to the evolving dynamics in the region.

This visit marks a significant development, being the first time senior US officials have set foot in Armenia since the ceasefire agreement that ended the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“I’m here to reiterate the US’ strong support & partnership with Armenia and to speak directly with those impacted by the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh,” stated Power, expressing her purpose in Armenia.

The US Embassy in Armenia released a statement emphasizing their support for Armenia’s independence, territorial integrity and democracy.

Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Narek Mkrtchyan extended the warm welcome, showcasing the importance attached to Power and Kim’s arrival.

However, while US officials aim to focus on humanitarian efforts, there is growing skepticism about their true intentions.

The move to discuss “humanitarian needs” are viewed by some as an attempt to protect [Armenia Prime Minister Nikol] Pashinyan from backlash within his own country as the visit coincides with mounting criticism of the prime minister’s handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – specifically the ceasefire terms.

Critics argue that American involvement may not lead to a favorable outcome, drawing parallels with past US interventions.

Thus, the visit by American officials to bolster Pashinyan’s position in the face of domestic criticism is seen by some as an unwelcome interference in Armenia’s internal affairs.

The latest comes amid reports that the United States is working on creating an international mission for Nagorno-Karabakh, adding another layer of uncertainty to the situation in the region.

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