Pashinyan’s Party Increases Antagonism with Russia

Pashinyan’s Party Increases Antagonism with Russia

Armenian pro-government lawmakers dismissed on Friday Russia’s strong criticism of the European Union’s decision to send a new team of monitors to Armenia’s volatile border with Azerbaijan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the two-year monitoring mission approved by the EU member states this week “can only bring geopolitical confrontation to the region and exacerbate existing disagreements” there.

The ministry accused the 27-nation bloc of seeking to “push back Russia’s mediation efforts at any cost.” It also chided Yerevan for agreeing to the EU deployment and refusing a similar mission offered by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

The Armenian government did not officially react to the criticism as of Friday evening. But two senior lawmakers representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party did not mince words in rejecting it.

One of them, Vigen Khachatrian, described the Russian reaction as a “jealousy scene.” He said that Russia and the CSTO “have done nothing” to defend Armenia against Azerbaijani military attacks.

“Had they fulfilled their obligations this issue would not have arisen in the first place,” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

“Armenia has no desire to create any danger or threats,” said the other parliamentarian, Gurgen Arsenian. “Neither do Turkey, Iran and Georgia. There are only two other players: Azerbaijan and Russia. Is Azerbaijan going to realize Russian threats? … We took action against the Azerbaijani threat by inviting that mission to Armenia.”

Arsenian claimed that Moscow opposes the EU mission because it fears losing its “political monopoly” in the South Caucasus.

By contrast, Tigran Abrahamian of the opposition Pativ Unem bloc expressed serious concern over what he saw as a further worsening of Armenia’s relationship with Russia. He accused Pashinyan’s government of “fully importing the deep confrontation between Russia and the West to Armenia” and thus putting its security at even greater risk.

“This could have very unpredictable consequences for Armenia,” warned Abrahamian.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry doubled down on its criticism of the impending EU mission. The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, described the EU as a “cover” for the realization of NATO’s military objectives.