Moscow blames Armenia for breakdown in peace talks with Azerbaijan
As a humanitarian crisis continues in landlocked Nagorno-Karabakh because of a road blockage by a group of state-sponsored Azerbaijani activists, Russia blamed Armenia for a breakdown in peace talks with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
In a statement on Thursday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova targeted Armenia for cancelling peace talks between the two sides and called on Yerevan to come back to the negotiating table.
"It is difficult to assess Yerevan's position when their official statements differ so significantly," Zakharova said.
She said Yerevan's decision to pull out of peace talks set for last month in Moscow "prevented us from discussing the peace treaty", adding:
"If our Armenian partners are really interested in solving these problems, then instead of engaging in scholasticism, it is necessary to continue working together."
Armenia and Azerbaijan have for months been in talks to broker a peace deal over Nagorno-Karabakh - a breakaway enclave internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but home to a mainly Armenian population, who won de facto independence from Baku after a war in the early 1990s. After a second war in 2020, Azerbaijan retook territory in and around the enclave. A Moscow-brokered ceasefire saw Russian peacekeepers deployed in the Lachin corridor linking Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
For the past month, dozens of Azerbaijanis claiming to be environmental activists have blocked transport along the Lachin corridor, disrupting the movement of people and goods in or out of the enclave, including food, fuel, and medical supplies, and resulting in shortages of the products. Baku says the protesters have legitimate concerns over illegal Armenian mining, and denies that the region is under blockade.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently blasted Russia of not putting a sufficient effort to end the blockade.
More recently, Pashinyan announced at a news conference on Tuesday that Armenia is not going to hold any CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) exercises in 2023.
The US Embassy in Yerevan called on Tuesday for the immediate reopening of the Lachin corridor, reiterating previous warnings by the US State Department that the Azerbaijani blockade "sets back the peace process and undermines international confidence." It also said the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is trying to address "the needs of displaced persons in Armenia."