MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West of pressuring Armenia to end Russia’s military presence in the South Caucasus country and rely instead on the United States for defense.
“We have information that they are signaling to the Armenians, ‘Come to us, kick the Russians out of your territory, remove the [Russian] military base and border guards too, the Americans will help to ensure your security,” he told the Russian TV channel Tsargrad in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.
Lavrov condemned the alleged Western policy as a “blatant provocation.” The Armenian Foreign Ministry declined to immediately comment on his claims.
Lavrov already decried in March “undisguised attempts by Western countries to estrange Armenia from Russia.” He also renewed Russian allegations that the U.S. and the European Union are seeking to hijack Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements brokered by Moscow during and after the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed that the West wants to “squeeze Russia out of the region” when it reacted in February to the deployment of 100 or so EU monitors to Armenia’s volatile border with Azerbaijan. The monitoring mission was requested by the Armenian government.
Speaking to Tsargrad, Lavrov again rebuked Yerevan for refusing a similar mission offered by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in November.
“If Yerevan had confirmed what had already been agreed [by CSTO member states] … I am convinced that Armenia would have benefited and gotten a more stable situation,” he said.
Armenian government has attributed its refusal to Russia’s and other CSTO allies’ failure to publicly condemn the “Azerbaijani aggression” against Armenia. It has given the same reason for rejecting “military-technical assistance.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russia is ready to welcome any constructive step that the West will make to help Armenia and Azerbaijan resolve their conflict, at a press briefing on Wednesday.
“We have said this more than once. The European Union and especially the U.S. fail to mention the Armenian-Azerbaijani-Russian statements, which are fundamental documents for the settlement of the conflict, although the parties to the conflict have recognized them as such,’ Zakharova said.
According to her, the only reason why the West does not do so is that these peace initiatives were developed with the participation of Russia and are being implemented, giving practical results.
“There have been no constructive and real results (from the West) that would indicate moving in a positive direction. You can say anything you want, but in practice it is not realized. That is why there is no desire in the West to mention anything that was worked out with the assistance of Moscow,” said Zakharova.
Zakharova added that this does not mean that Russia would not appreciate steps which could really lead to some constructive results.
“Whenever we manage to make a right move or a step which could lead to normalization or temporary calmness of the situation, we always emphasize the positive tendency, dynamics and so on. If there are results in this direction, we will certainly evaluate them highly. So far there is nothing to evaluate, we only see a creepy and clearly expressed desire (of the West) to override the agenda,” said Zakharova.