YEREVAN — Armenia’s prime minister Nikol Pashinyan has said his country’s policy of solely relying on Russia to guarantee its security was a strategic mistake because Moscow has been unable to deliver and is in the process of winding down its role in the wider region.

In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica published on Sunday, Pashinyan accused Russia of failing to ensure Armenia’s security in the face of aggression from neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan suggested that Moscow, which has a defence pact with Armenia and a militray base there, did not regard his country as sufficiently pro-Russian and said he believed Russia was in the process of leaving the wider South Caucasus region.

Yerevan was therefore trying to diversify its security arrangements, he said, an apparent reference to its ties with the European Union and the United States and its attempts to forge closer ties with other countries in the region.

“Armenia’s security architecture was 99.999% linked to Russia, including when it came to the procurement of arms and ammunition,” Pashinyan told La Repubblica.

“But today we see that Russia itself is in need of weapons, arms and ammunition (for the war in Ukraine) and in this situation it’s understandable that even if it wishes so, the Russian Federation cannot meet Armenia’s security needs.

“This example should demonstrate to us that dependence on just one partner in security matters is a strategic mistake.”

Azerbaijan’s goal is to depopulate Nagorno Karabakh
Pashinyan also expressed serious concern over Russia’s failure to implement its peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinyan said that one of the main objectives of the presence of the Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno Karabakh was to ensure the security of the civilian population.

“In this case security involves the freedom of movement, and this right is not implemented, which is a matter of concern,” Pashinyan said.

He warned that there will never be peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan if the two countries fail to recognize each other’s territorial integrity on the basis of the Alma-Ata declaration.

Azerbaijan’s goal is to depopulate Nagorno-Karabakh, and that is the reason why, in fact, an artificial humanitarian crisis has been created by illegally blocking the Lachin Corridor, Pashinyan stated.

“As a result of the closure of the Lachin Corridor since December, about 5,000 residents of Nagorno-Karabakh are unable to return, and approximately 30,000 residents of Nagorno-Karabakh are also unable to return. This group includes people who left their homes during the 2020 war because they came under the control of Azerbaijan. But the problem of these people should have been solved,” Pashinyan said

The Armenian Prime Minister said that the Nagorno-Karabakh humanitarian crisis is a “crisis of the international legal order”, because Azerbaijan is disregarding the ICJ rulings ordering it to open the Lachin Corridor since February 2023.

“International Court of Justice has issued a binding ruling ordering Azerbaijan to ensure bilateral transit from Nagorno Karabakh to Armenia and from Armenia to Nagorno Karabakh for persons, vehicles and goods. But this ruling was passed on February 22, 2023 and was reaffirmed on July 6, 2023 is not being implemented. This comes to prove following the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno Karabakh that, if we can say so, this is a crisis of the international legal order, if a binding ruling of the ICJ is not being implemented, such a conclusion may follow,” Pashinyan said.

“I cannot make evaluation in this respect, except for agreeing with the formulation, that in fact, yes, it tuns out that the peacekeepers of the Russian Federation failed to implement the mission they have assumed under the tripartite statement and this is a matter of serious concern. Essentially, one of the main objectives of the presence of the Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno Karabakh was to ensure the security of the civilian population. In this case security involves the freedom of movement, and this right is not implemented, which is a matter of concern,” he said.

PM Nikol Pashinyan said that the peace architecture should feature guarantees around two issues – the reciprocal recognition of each other’s territorial integrity between Armenia and Azerbaijan and addressing the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinyan also talked about the normalization with Turkey, Western efforts in the NK conflict settlement and Russia.

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