Says Russian Peacekeepers have a Crucial role to play in Nagorno-Karabakh
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that the West “is imposing its mediation service” on Armenia and Azerbaijan in order to support its geopolitical ambitions, not for peace.
Lavrov said that Brussels and Washington, by interfering in the situation in Karabakh, are”destabilizing the South Caucasus.”
“Now that the leaders of Yerevan and Baku have settled the issue of mutual recognition of the sovereignty of the two countries, it is time to establish a peaceful life and strengthen trust. The Russian peacekeeping contingent is ready to contribute to this in every possible way,” Lavrov said in a statement published the foreign ministry website.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin on Monday echoed the same sentiments about the peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“The role of our [peacekeeping] contingent is in demand, and I believe that it will also be necessary in the future,” Galuzin told the Russian news agency RBC. “Firstly, the question remains of making sure that those residents of Karabakh who stay there feel secure. It cannot be ruled out that some of those who left Nagorno-Karabakh today will at some stage decide to return, and the presence of peacekeepers will become an additional factor of calm for these people.”
“So I would not say that the activities of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh have exhausted themselves,” he said.
The number of Karabakh Armenians remaining in their homeland is believed to be negligible, a fact acknowledged by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. The more than 100,000 other residents of the region have fled to Armenia since September 20 because of being unwilling to live under Azerbaijani rule.
Nevertheless, Galuzin said, Moscow still believes that an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty discussed by the conflicting sides should address the issue of “the rights and security of Karabakh’s Armenian population.” It has presented Baku and Yerevan with “some ideas on this score,” he added without elaborating.
The Russian diplomat also said that Moscow hopes to broker the peace treaty and help the sides delimit the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and work out terms for opening it to trade and cargo shipments. He dismissed similar efforts by the European Union, claiming that their main goal is to drive Russia out of the South Caucasus.
The Armenian government urged the Russian peacekeepers to step in to protect Karabakh’s population hours after the start of the Azerbaijani assault. The absence of such intervention led Yerevan to accuse Moscow of not honoring its obligations spelled out in a 2020 truce accord brokered by it.
Galuzin rejected the criticism. Echoing Putin’s statements, he said Pashinian himself downgraded the peacekeepers’ status and legitimized Baku’s military action by recognizing Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan during earlier talks with Aliyev organized by the EU.
Galuzin reiterated Moscow’s condemnation of Yerevan’s “unfriendly” moves, notably the decision to recognize jurisdiction of an international court that issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March.