YEREVAN—Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday called on Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to clarify comments he made on Monday regarding an agreement that is being hammered out between Moscow and Yerevan to curtail “foreign” military presence in Armenia.
“We are completing with Armenia the drafting of a document which will guarantee the absence of foreign military personnel there [in Armenia,]” Lavrov told the Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station. “It will guarantee transparency in terms of threats and risks.”
Lavrov made the statement in response to a question about biological research laboratories which have been donated by the United States to Armenia to be used for food safety and other such uses. Russian voiced no concerns about the facilities when its officials inspected the laboratories.
Speaking to reporters in Dilijan on Wednesday, Pashinyan said that such an agreement was under discussion during the previous regime.
“A similar agreement was discussed with the Armenian authorities in the past. We have never discussed that issue with our Russian partners during the period of our government. It’s necessary for Mr. Lavrov to clarify what he meant,” said Pashinyan.
Pashinyan also responded to a high-level Russian official who claimed on Wednesday that the United States was exerting pressure on Armenia.
On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin accused the United States of meddling in Armenia’s affairs and alleged that during his visit to Armenia last month, President Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton “ordered” Armenia to purchase weapons from the United Sates.
“Against the background of radical changes taking place in the country [Armenia] this year, Washington’s interference in its internal and external affairs is becoming increasingly unceremonious,” Karasin told the RIA Novosti news agency.
“We expect that the current leadership of Armenia, which received a necessary mandate in the [December 9] parliamentary elections, will have the courage to resist the unhidden external blackmail and pressure and will defend its sovereign right to independently make decisions based on national interests,” added Karasin, who insisted that Bolton had also pressured Yerevan to join U.S. sanctions on Iran.
“If this is the public side of U.S.-Armenian relations then one can imagine what kind of arm-twisting is taking place behind the scenes,” said Karasin.
While speaking to reporters in Dilijan, Pashinyan questioned the source of Karasin’s information that prompted him to make such a statement.
“The Republic of Armenia pursues its own policy and I think if not everyone, at least many see that. And Armenia will continue that policy,” said Pashinyan who added that currently, Armenia has not been presented with opportunities to purchase weapons from the United States.