The Foreign Ministry says Brussels? monitors in Armenia are seeking a foothold for the West
The expansion of the EU monitoring mission in Armenia on the border with Azerbaijan, which was announced this week, adds no value to regional stability and may make things worse, the Russian Foreign Ministry has warned.
"The EU's attempts to get a foothold in Armenia and sideline Russia's mediation efforts may damage the core interests of Armenians and Azerbaijanis as they pursue a return to peaceful development of the region," a statement released by the ministry on Thursday said.
Moscow described the EU as "an appendage of the US and NATO" and assessed that its "confrontational policy" can only "bring geopolitical confrontation and aggravate existing disagreements". The mission's stated civilian nature should not "deceive" anyone, Russia said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced the border patrol mission on Monday. Its goal is "sustainable peace in the region", according to the top diplomat. The EU mission is scheduled to run for at least two years, and follows on from a program launched in October, involving some 40 observers.
"If officials in Brussels were really interested in peace in the Transcaucasian region, they would have consulted with Azerbaijan about the terms of the mission," the Russian ministry stressed.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have a decades-old dispute over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a part of Azerbaijan with a predominantly ethnic-Armenian population, which claims to be an independent state. In 2020, the two nations fought a 44-day war, which ended with a Russian-brokered truce.
Last September, tensions flared up again on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with dozens of soldiers reported killed on both sides. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan requested military assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a regional group that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. The organization opted for diplomatic resolution and sent an observer mission in the wake of the clashes.
Yerevan "chose the EU before the CSTO mission could achieve its logical conclusion," the Russian Foreign Ministry remarked, suggesting that the observers could be deployed again, should the Armenian government request it.