PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Russia of inciting Azerbaijan to attack Armenia in a bid to destabilize the South Caucasus.
“What’s been happening on the border the last two years … 5,000 Russian soldiers are supposedly there [in Armenia] to guarantee the border, [but] the Russians have used this centuries-old conflict and played Azerbaijan’s game with Turkish complicity and came back to weaken Armenia which was once a country it was close to,” Macron charged in an interview with France 2 television broadcast late on Wednesday.
Macron said that Moscow “wants to create disorder in the Caucasus to destabilize all of us.” And he again blamed Azerbaijan for the September 13-14 clashes along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border which killed at least 280 soldiers from both sides.
Macron last week sat down with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and European Council President Charles Michel to flesh out an agreement that will see a civilian EU mission head to the countries’ border to assess the situation.
Earlier this week Russia called the EU mission an “intervention” in Moscow’s efforts to settle relations between Yerevan and Baku.
Russia sees the civilian mission of the European Union on the border of Azerbaijan and Armenia as an attempt by the European Union to push back Moscow’s efforts and intervene in the settlement of relations, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters at a briefing.
“Unfortunately, here we see another attempt by the European Union to intervene in any way in the settlement of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, to suppress the mediation efforts of our country,” she said.
“We proceed from the fact that the only key to the reconciliation of Baku and Yerevan, the establishment of lasting peace and long-term stability in the region is the full implementation of the tripartite statements of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Zakharova adde
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday rejected Macron’s accusations directed at Moscow as “egregious” and “absurd.”
“Unlike France, which even during periods of escalation between Baku and Yerevan confined itself to standard calls for peace, Russia contributed to the settlement of the conflict in practical terms,” said Maria Zakharova, the ministry spokeswoman.
She argued that it was Moscow that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war through a ceasefire and brokered follow-up agreements on Armenian-Azerbaijani transport links and border demarcation.
“Paris’s attempts to drive a wedge into Russia’s relations with Azerbaijan and Armenia, which are close to us and with which Russia is bound by long-term and multifaceted ties, are doomed to failure,” added Zakharova.