YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—The Collective Security Treaty Organization still stands ready to send monitors to Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan despite a similar mission announced by the European Union, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The Russian-led military alliance of six ex-Soviet states first made such an offer during a summit of its leaders held in Yerevan last November. Armenia reportedly declined it because the other CSTO member states refused to condemn Azerbaijan’s offensive military operations along the border.
“The offer is still on the table,” Lavrov told Russian state television in an interview aired late on Wednesday. “If our Armenian allies and friends are still interested in it, then this mission can literally be deployed within one or two days.”
The Armenian government appealed to the CSTO for support during the September 2022 border clashes which left at least 224 Armenian soldiers dead. Armenian leaders afterwards accused the Russian-led military alliance of ignoring the appeal in breach of its statutes.
Yerevan went on to request a new and larger monitoring mission by the EU. The 27-nation bloc officially agreed to the two-year mission on January 23 in a move denounced by Russia. It is expected to deploy over 100 civilian monitors to Armenian border areas later this month.
The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed last week that they “can only bring geopolitical confrontation to the region.” It accused the EU of seeking to “push back Russia’s mediation efforts at any cost.” Senior Armenian lawmakers representing the ruling Civil Contract party brushed aside the Russian criticism.
Russian-Armenian relations have been frosty lately also because of Azerbaijan’s nearly two-month blockade of the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Yerevan has accused Russian peacekeepers deployed in Karabakh of doing little to unblock the vital road.
Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan cancelled in late December a trilateral meeting with Lavrov and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov, prompting a stern rebuke from Moscow. Lavrov said on Tuesday he hopes the meeting will take place in Moscow soon.
Mirzoyan on Thursday met with the Russian ambassador to Armenia, Sergei Kopyrkin. The Armenian Foreign Ministry said they discussed bilateral ties and regional security. It gave no details.