Russia and US trade insults over Armenia-Azerbaijan tensions

Russia and US trade insults over Armenia-Azerbaijan tensions

A Russian spokeswoman has criticised western interference in the Azerbaijan-Armenia dispute.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted on Telegram that the United States and European Union were claiming credit for the truce that she said was agreed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

“The brusque and impudent approach of the west can also be seen in the efforts for normalisation of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Neither regional specifics nor the sensitivity of the problem are taken into account,” Zakharova posted.

“The true goals of Washington and Brussels are not to work out a compromise and balanced solutions, but self-promotion and squeezing Russia out of Transcaucasia,” she said in reference to the South Caucasus.

She said the west’s “hastily concocted” initiatives failed to not take regional interests into account, threatening “the balance that was achieved in difficult conditions through agreements between the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia”.

Western observers have suggested that Azerbaijan’s September attack on its northern neighbour was prompted by Russia’s weakened position after a series of defeats in Ukraine and its inability to bolster its Armenian allies.

Russia brokered an agreement that ended the 44-day war that started in September 2020 between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Baku’s forces rapidly crushed Armenia’s Russian military hardware using Turkish-made Bayraktah drones. The accurate but relatively cheap drones had a similar effect on the Russian kit used to invade Ukraine in February.

In 1991, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Armenia occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous territory with a largely ethnically Armenian population but internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

Fighting re-erupted in September, costing an estimated 300 lives.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sent a “needs assessment team” to Armenia last week, sparking condemnation from Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey.

Turkey’s veteran foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said the western mission contradicted the OSCE’s operating rules.

He accused the OSCE of having “sided with the occupier” since the early 1990s. Turkey is allied with Azerbaijan.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price replied to Zakharova’s statement by saying Washington was committed to bilateral peace negotiations.

“First, we would certainly take issue with a characterisation of our efforts being self-promotional. There is nothing self-promotional about seeking to put an end to years of conflict and to years of flare-ups that have led to violence and ultimately to deaths, both on the part of Armenians and the citizens of Azerbaijan. Our only goal here is to see and to help these countries work together to bring about a comprehensive and lasting peace, and ultimately to save lives. I don’t know what about that can be construed as self-promotional,” Price told the media.

“We believe direct dialogue is key to resolving issues and to reaching a lasting peace. It’s why Secretary [Antony] Blinken brought together his foreign minister counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan in New York City in September, the first time that the two had been in the same room since the recent flare-up of violence.
“Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia and its ongoing brutal invasion of Ukraine suggests that Moscow has little respect for its neighbour’s sovereignty and is hardly a reliable, long-term partner,” Price said.

The South Caucasus are increasingly volatile. Picture credit: Wallpaper

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