MOSCOW — Russia on Wednesday dismissed a senior U.S. official’s assurances that Washington wants to continue to cooperate with Moscow in facilitating a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried denied at the weekend Russian claims that the United States as well as France stopped that cooperation following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She said that the OSCE Minsk Group co-headed by the three mediating powers remains a “very important format” for brokering an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord.
“France, the U.S. and Russia would continue in that format,” Donfried told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
“I would like to allow myself to doubt the sincerity of Karen Donfried’s statement,” said Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. “If Washington and Paris really considered the unique mediating format of the Minsk Group important, they would not allow themselves to neglect the mandate approved by all participating states.”
Zakharova claimed that the U.S. and France froze the work of the Minsk Group and caused it “irreparable damage” as part of their broader attempts to isolate Russia on the international stage.
“There is no guarantee that such irresponsible actions will not be repeated,” she told reporters in Moscow. “Pretending that nothing happened just won’t work. New realities must be taken into account.”
Russia will continue to support the efforts of Azerbaijan and Armenia to unblock economic and transport communications in the South Caucasus, Zakharova said during the briefing today.
“We welcome the intensification of the activities of the trilateral working group, co-chaired by the Deputy Prime Ministers of the three countries [Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia] to unblock economic and transport communications in the South Caucasus,” she said.
She recalled that on June 3, a regular meeting of this group was held, during which “the parties brought their positions closer on a number of issues,” and on June 16-17, discussions continued on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
“The Russian side will continue to provide close assistance to this process,” Zakharova stressed.
In recent weeks, Armenia’s leaders have called for renewed joint activities of U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. By contrast, Azerbaijani officials and President Ilham Aliyev in particular have repeatedly questioned the need for the group’s continued existence.