Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday accused the United States and its Western allies of plotting to pressure Yerevan into “throwing Russia out of Armenia.”
He told the Russian Tsargard television channel in an interview that Moscow has intelligence suggesting that the West is pressuring Armenia to end Russia’s military presence in Armenia and rely on the U.S. for its defense.
Based on a long-term treaty signed between Russia and Armenia soon after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian military is guarding Armenia’s border with Turkey. That agreement was recently extended well into the 2020s. Since the 2020 war, Russian border guards have also been stationed in positions in Armenia’s southern border in the Syunik Province to regulate the border with Azerbaijan.
“We have information that they [the U.S. and its allies] are signaling to the Armenians, ‘Come to us, kick the Russians out of your territory, remove the [Russian] military base and border guards too, the Americans will help to ensure your security,” Lavrov told Tsargrad in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.
Lavrov’s statement on Wednesday was by far the strongest accusation of the West by the Russian foreign ministry, which has condemned the U.S. and the European Union of allegedly hijacking the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process, as well as undermining agreements brokered by Moscow during and after the 44-Day war.
During the Tsargrad interview, Lavrov condemned the West calling its policies “blatant provocation.”
In the 32 years since Armenia’s independence and the settlement processes of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the U.S. and the West have stepped up their interest and cooperation with Armenia and its current government.
European Council President Charles Michel hosted talks between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan on Sunday in Brussels, days after Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers, Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov, near Washington for four days of meetings.
Lavrov’s remarks come days before Mirzoyan and Bayramov are scheduled to meet in Moscow on Friday, which is rescheduling of a planned meeting in December, which was canceled at Yerevan’s request due to Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova confirmed to reporters on Wednesday that Mirzoyan and Bayramov will meet with Lavrov on Friday in Moscow, saying that talks will move forward as planned.
Relations between Yerevan and Moscow have become strained significantly, stemming from Armenia’s claims that Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization did not properly react to Yerevan’s appeal for assistance after Azerbaijani forces breached Armenia’s sovereign borders for a third time since 2021.
The CSTO and Moscow have countered and insisted that a monitoring mission by the Russia-led security bloc is on stand by and awaiting the green light from Yerevan, which requested and welcomed the deployment of a 100-person European Union mission along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan in February.
During the Tsargrad interview on Wednesday, Russia accused Yerevan of refusing the CSTO mission, the parameters of which were agreed to during the bloc’s annual summit in Yerevan in November.
“If Yerevan had confirmed what had already been agreed [by CSTO member states] … I am convinced that Armenia would have benefited and gotten a more stable situation,” Lavrov said.
Pashinyan and his government insist that they are dissatisfied with the CSTO’s failure to properly characterize and condemn the Azerbaijan’s aggression against Armenia and has cited this as the reason for a delay in the deployment of the CSTO mission.