Spokesperson of Armenian Foreign Ministry Ani Patalyan

YEREVAN — Armenia’s government on Thursday continued to blame Russian peacekeepers for last week’s shooting incident in the Lachin corridor, dismissing Moscow’s reaction to it and criticism of Yerevan.

The government insisted that Armenian border guards opened fire on June 15 to stop Azerbaijani servicemen manning a checkpoint set up in the corridor from placing an Azerbaijani flag on adjacent Armenian territory.

Videos of the incident suggest that the Azerbaijanis were escorted by Russian soldiers as they crossed a bridge over the Hakari river in a bid to hoist the flag. The Armenian Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Yerevan on June 16 to express “strong discontent” with the Russian peacekeepers’ actions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, on Wednesday defended the peacekeepers and rejected the Armenian criticism as “absolutely groundless.” She said the incident resulted from the “absence of a delimited Armenian-Azerbaijani border.”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Ani Badalyan dismissed that argument, saying that Zakharova echoed Baku’s regular justifications of its “aggressive actions against Armenia’s borders.”

“In response to the comment of the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, I consider it necessary to mention the following.

The incident of June 15 did not take place in the Lachin Corridor, as the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry notes, but in the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, on the Armenian side of the Hakari Bridge.

There is a clear contradiction in the interpretation of the Russian side. If, due to the lack of delimitation of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it is not possible to say exactly where the border line passes, and this is the reason for the ongoing problems, as the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry claims, then the question arises on what basis and principle the Azerbaijani flag was being raised on June 15 on this particular part of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, on this side of the bridge. By the way, let us record that this same thesis is regularly repeated verbatim by the Azerbaijani side when carrying out aggressive actions against the borders of the Republic of Armenia and invading the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia.

It is not clear why Russian peacekeepers participated in that operation of Azerbaijan, when both the purpose and even the location of the operation were clearly outside the scope of the peacekeepers’ functions and responsibility. We remind that the only function of the Russian peacekeepers was to keep the 5 km wide corridor of Lachin under control.

By the way, after the June 15 incident, the Azerbaijani side completely blocked the Lachin Corridor, as a result of which even humanitarian supplies, including food and medicine, are not being delivered to Nagorno-Karabakh, even seriously ill persons in need of medical care are not being transported from Nagorno Karabakh to Armenian medical institutions through the ICRC, , gas and electricity supply continues to be interrupted.

In conclusion, we would like to urge the signatories of November 9, 2020 declaration and other tripartite statements accepted by the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan, to steadily implement their commitments, instead of seeking justifications.

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