The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Armenia’s ambassador on Friday to protest against what it described as “a series of unfriendly steps” taken by Yerevan against Moscow in recent days.
The ministry listed the Armenian government’s decision to host a joint U.S.-Armenian military exercise, this week’s visit to Ukraine by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s wife and the Armenian parliament’s anticipated ratification of the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court, which issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin early this year.
In a statement, it said Ambassador Vagharshak Harutiunyan heard a “tough presentation” regarding these moves. He was also handed a note of protest against Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonyan’s “offensive remarks” addressed to Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Zakharova poured scorn on Pashinyan on Monday after he declared that he wants to “diversify our security policy” because he believes Armenia’s military alliance with Russia has been a “strategic mistake.” Zakharova went on to decry Simonyan’s “boorish” criticism of Russian peacekeepers stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“I’m not going to respond to some female secretary,” Simonyan shot back the following day. “It’s not my level.”
Russian-Armenian relations have significantly deteriorated over the past year, with Armenian leaders increasingly complaining about what they see as a lack of Russian support for Armenia in the conflict with Azerbaijan. The rift between Moscow and Yerevan has stoked speculation about a pro-Western shift in Armenia’s traditional geopolitical orientation.
Some of Pashinyan’s political allies as well as Western-funded civic groups have welcomed such a prospect. By contrast, Armenia’s main opposition groups are seriously concerned about it, arguing that the West is not ready to give Armenia security guarantees or military aid.
The Foreign Ministry in Moscow insisted on Friday that Russia and Armenia “remain allies.”