Moscow said on Thursday that Armenia’s criticism of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Artsakh cannot be justified, saying that the continent is actively engaged in stabilizing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Last week, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan criticized the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Artsakh, citing incidents of Azerbaijani incursions into Artsakh-controlled territories that are being guarded by the Russian forces, including Azerbaijan’s invasion of the Parukh village in Artsakh’s Askeran district. Azerbaijani forces continue to remain on those positions.
Pashinyan also called into the question the mission of the Russian peacekeepers and blamed Baku for refusing to sign the mandate for those troops, as stated in the November 9, 2020 agreement. He said that by not signing the needed documents, Azerbaijani continues to violate the ceasefire.
In rejecting Armenia’s criticism, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ivan Nachaev said at a briefing on Thursday that both Baku and Yerevan have extolled the important role of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.
Nachaev said that President Vladimir Putin of Russia spoke to Pashinyan on two occasions in the past week—on August 2 and 8—adding that the foreign and defense ministers of Russia were in active communication with their Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts to ensure a de-escalation in Karabakh.
“All the aforementioned issues, including the situation around the Lachin corridor, are the subject of consultations in order to find a solution that would be convenient for the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides. Considering the sensitivity of the issue, the Russian side does not voice the details of the arrangements being discussed,” Nechaev said
“Parallel to intense political discussions, the Russian peacekeepers are actively working, who are making necessary efforts in the direction of stabilizing the situation on the ground. Earlier both in Baku and in Yerevan the important role of the Russian peacekeeping contingent was emphasized not once. We find separate criticisms towards the peacekeepers to be unjustified,” added Nechaev.
“We reiterate the need to resolve all issues according to the November 9, 2020, the January 11 and November 26, 2021 statements by the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said Nachaev who said the especially the Lachin corridor issue, must be resolved based on the sixth point of the November 9 agreement, which stipulates that within three years from the signing, the sides must prepare a plan for the construction of a new road that connects Armenia to Artsakh, which will be safeguarded by Russian peacekeepers.
Armenia just began the construction of the five-mile road earlier this month, while Azerbaijan, having employed Turkish contractors, announced that its portion of the road—a 30-kilometer stretch—is near completion and is instating to divert traffic onto the new road from the current Lachin interconnect.
Nachaev, the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, said that Russia is planning to organize “contact” between the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia by the end of August.