Armenia increasingly critical towards Russia
As the near-total closure of the only road in and out of the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh entered its third week, the precarious humanitarian situation in the region led to increasing criticism of Russia from top Armenian representatives. At a meeting of the Armenian government on December 22, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused the Russian peacekeepers of not fulfilling their obligations, as stipulated in the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, which stipulates the guarantee of unhindered movement of citizens and goods along the Lachin corridor.
Pashinyan argued that despite the illegal actions of Azerbaijan, the situation remains unchanged due to the lack of enforcement by the Russian peacekeepers. He also expressed his belief that the key task of the peacekeepers is to prevent illegal actions and that they are currently failing in this regard.
The Armenian PM continued similarly during his meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, which took place in Saint Petersburg on December 27. Pashinyan said that“…despite the agreement, Lachin Corridor is not under the control of Russian peacekeepers, and I would like to discuss that situation and the available variants”.
Two days later, Pashinyan further slammed Russian peacekeepers, calling for the involvement of the UN. “If Russia is unable to ensure stability and security in Nagorno-Karabakh for objective or subjective reasons, then it should initiate a discussion in the UN Security Council to grant the Russian military contingent a UN Security Council mandate.”
According to Pashinyan, such a question also arose because the closure of the Lachin Corridor is not the first case of an Azerbaijani invasion under the responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping force. “It was preceded by the events of Khtsaberd [Çaylaqqala in Azerbaijani] and Parukh [Farukh in Azerbaijani],” he added.
The Secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, Armen Grigoryan, went even further when he claimed that the crisis was a result of efforts from Russia and Belarus to push Armenia to join the Union State that already binds those two former Soviet republics. “Armenia is under pressure in this regard, but when our democratic structures resist, we receive a different type of pressure — of the military variety,” he claimed in an interview with public television.‘
In response to the Armenian Prime Minister’s statement, Dmitry Peskov, the Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, noted that Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh are doing everything possible to ensure order and tranquillity, acting by the spirit and letter of the relevant agreements.
Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, added that the Russian peacekeepers are fulfilling their mission and have successfully settled the situation before the current crisis. In response to Pashinyan’s accusations. Zakharova stated that such an attitude towards the Russian peacekeepers is unacceptable.