Armenian Prime Minister criticizes Russia’s role in Artsakh

Russian peacekeepers (Photo: Dickran Khodanian)

Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan appeared to criticize Russia’s role in the Artsakh conflict in a statement marking the anniversary of Armenian independence.

“Independence is strong allied relations for us, but allies are not always allies of you, but of those who ally against you,” Pashinyan said in his August 23 message, not mentioning any specific country by name.

Pashinyan also said that Armenia is still fighting for its independence. “De facto, that process has not ended until today, not because we don’t have independence, but because independence is like health, which even if you have it, you have to take care of it every day,” the statement read. “Independence is security for us. The international structures that provide it are cracking in front of all of us, and one of the first cracks was unfortunately expressed in Nagorno-Karabakh.” 

The role of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Artsakh has come under scrutiny following the August 5 announcement by Armenian authorities that the Armenian residents of the villages of Aghavno and Nerkin Sus and the town of Berdzor, all located along the Lachin (Berdzor) corridor, must evacuate their homes by August 25. 

The Berdzor district was ceded to Azerbaijan after the 2020 Artsakh War, except for the Lachin corridor connecting Armenia and Artsakh. Under the terms of the ceasefire, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to form a plan for the construction of an alternate route within the next three years, to which Russian peacekeepers would be redeployed. 

While the Armenian government announced that construction of the Armenian section of the route will commence this summer, the Azerbaijani government says that its portion of the road is nearly ready for use. 

Several critical pieces of infrastructure, including electric power lines, a gas pipeline and internet cable, are located on the Lachin corridor. It is unclear whether this infrastructure will be rebuilt along the new route or remain under Azerbaijan’s control. 

During a meeting with the leaders of the five political parties represented in the Artsakh parliament two days before the evacuation deadline, the leadership of the Russian peacekeeping mission said that the new route will have the same status as the Lachin corridor. 

The Russian peacekeeping force said that the “new route will have a legal status of the same corridor, and all security components will be kept, from the five-kilometer security zone to the deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces at checkpoints.”

The meeting followed an interview with Russian diplomat Maxim Seleznyov, during which he said that the Russian peacekeepers will not leave the Lachin corridor until the new route is complete.

“The Russian peacekeepers will not be deployed along the new corridor until it is put into operation, and there are agreements in this regard. The parties are in direct contact, and I assure you that the peacekeepers will not move a single centimeter until there is a new corridor,” Seleznyov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on August 18.

Some commentators have questioned why the Armenian government agreed to cede communities along the Lachin corridor prior to the three-year deadline stipulated by the ceasefire agreement. 

“It can be firmly stated that Pashinyan’s government had given a certain agreement to hand over the city of Lachin to Azerbaijan, or at least to agree to the new route connecting Artsakh and Armenia before the three-year stipulation,” CivilNet editor-in-chief Karen Harutyunyan wrote in an August 8 article. 

“One can endlessly blame Azerbaijan,” Harutyunyan continued. “One can blame Russia, which, according to Armenia’s claims, does not properly fulfill its duties to protect the security of the Armenians of Artsakh. The fact, however, is that the Armenian government has failed to make a sober assessment of the situation that has led to the current deadlock and the loss of human lives.” 

The August 5 eviction notice for residents of Aghavno, Nerkin Sus and Berdzor followed incursions by the Azerbaijani armed forces on the northwestern part of the Martakert region of Artsakh and in the direction of the Lachin corridor on August 3 that left at least two Armenian soldiers killed and 19 injured. 

Pashinyan blamed the latest border attacks, as well as previous incursions, on the ineffectiveness of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Artsakh. 

“The capture of the villages of Khtsaberd and Hin Tagher and the capture of Armenian servicemen by Azerbaijan in the presence and with the permission of the peacekeepers of the Russian Federation on December 11, 2020, the capture of the village of Parukh in Nagorno Karabakh on March 24, 2022, again in the presence of the peacekeepers of the Russian Federation, the continuous and deteriorating violations of the ceasefire regime along the contact line, the cases of physically and psychologically intimidating the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh in the presence of the peacekeepers are simply unacceptable,” Pashinyan said in an August 4 cabinet meeting. 

He continued that it is necessary to “clarify the details of the peacekeeping operation” in Artsakh. 

On August 18, Seleznyov said that the peacekeepers “are doing the maximum that their mandate allowed.”

“One would like to see restraint on all sides: on the part of the Azerbaijani troops, and most importantly on the part of the Armenian public. Here in Yerevan and in Stepanakert everyone should know and understand that the Russian peacekeeping contingent is doing the maximum it can, that it is there to try to protect the civilian population from the horrors of war as far as possible,” he said. 

Armenian Weekly contributor Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan said that blaming the Russian peacekeeping mission after every escalation increases tensions in Armenia-Russia relations and stokes anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia.

“There is a perception that the Armenian government would like to shift the blame on Russian peacekeepers for surrendering Berdzor and surrounding villages to Azerbaijan, presenting this as a result of the Russia-Azerbaijan deal against Armenian interests,” Poghosyan said in an August 8 op-ed for the Weekly.

“Directing criticism against Russian peacekeepers and stoking anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia are in line with US and EU interests in the region, which would like to see less Russian in the South Caucasus, including no Russian troops in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Poghosyan continued.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.
Lillian Avedian

@LillianAvedian

Graduate student @GloJo_NYU and @nyukevo. Staff writer @armenianweekly. Editorial intern @DAWN_Journal.
Particularly relevant comments today, as #Azerbaijan has launched a full-scale attack on #Armenia https://t.co/pW93IgzA6b - 2 weeks ago

19 Comments

  1. If I was Russia’s leader and I had to deal with a problematic, unstable, restless and self-destructive people like Armenians, I would order the immediate pull out of all Russian forces from Artsakh and Armenia; cease all military ties; cut all uranium fuel, natural gas and oil deliveries; forbid Armenian migrants from sending money to Armenia; and discourage Russian tourism in Armenia. I will then sit back and watch what Nikol and company, not to mention Russophobes and “nationalists” in Armenian society, will do to stop Armenia’s total collapse overnight.

    • Listen Armenian diaspora in Russia very weak and uneffective if you compare them with tatars and chechen they got more profits than armenians but if you look real patriot us armenians last 30 years we fund we financed the Armenia not our diaspora in russia they always wish armenia became russian oblast living under russian flag and protection instead freedom this mentality also fellow the pro lran policy which is totally opposite to western countries

  2. Just who do you think you are calling yourself “Concerned Armenian” while calling for the complete destruction and take over of Armenia by your shithole country of “Mother Russia”?

    You think you’re so smart with “I would pull out of Armenia”? If you were “Russia’s leader”, Russia would soon collapse. Even the drunk Russians are not that daft. In fact that would be a dream come true for us Armenians, getting rid of ungrateful, oppressive, crude, belligerent, backstabbing snakes once and for all would be worth the price to pay. And the joy we would see Russia’s entire energy sector collapse with the soon to come revolutions of all the central Asian states, without which Russia would not even exist.

    Oh and by the way Vlad, Uranium comes from Armenia, that’s one of the reasons Mother Russia is not leaving. And Iran could easily fill any other energy void. And the USA would gladly set up a base in the region and point NATO missiles at Moscow. “Discourage Russian tourism”? Wow, what a threat!

    Now I will come to the real point. There is something to be said about a nation like Russia who single-handedly created Turkey and Azerbaijan at the expense of Armenia, then pretended to “save” Armenia after unleashing those Turks on us, and playing the same vile evil game for over a century. Such a country does not deserve to exist and its entire leadership in history should be in the deepest corner of Hell.

  3. What Armenians have now seen in Armenia and Artsakh, is that Russia is not there to stabilize the region, but to oppress, expel and occupy Armenians and Armenians only. Thus, what they call themselves is a lie. They are not ‘Russian peacekeepers’… they are ‘Russian turkkeepers’.

  4. Not that I disagree with Pashinyan, but what a great way to make a bad situation worse! Since everyone is too distracted with Ukraine to pay any attention to Artsakh, the most constructive effect of this statement is if it is ignored. In the worst case scenario, the Russian peacekeepers’ commander will take it as biting the hand that feeds you and will give even more leeway to the Azeris.

  5. Armenians needs to start learning about statehood because they have lost almost all their territory unlike any other nation. Armenians needed to recognize Artsakh which they have not done. Artzakhi Armenians were the only ones to win their territory back only to have paid traitors sell them out again. Pashinian needs to stand a tribunal for his contributions to a destruction of Armenian state. Additionally for the death of the Armenians in Arsakh in 2020.

  6. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Without Russia there would not be Armenia. Factually and Geopolitically there would not be an Azerbaijan or Georgia either. If Russia pulled its control and influence out of the area. Turkey would take parts of Georgia and northern Armenia. Iran would eat up every inch left of Armenia and all of Azerbaijan. Lets not forget who is the guarantor of the south Caucasus. Lets not forget that Azerbaijani society is not Turkish, nor do they want to be, nor do their leaders want to be under the control of Iran or Turkey. Lets not forget that Georgia is literally a husk of a state, a state that did not want to be under the influence of Russia but the west. In the end Georgia has not become completely neutral because it knows if it bites even more, there will be consequences. Without Russian Federation there is no security. Now is Russia perfect in its decision making? No, it makes its decision making that are beneficial to Russia. Is Russia wanting to re-create the former Empire, absolutely. The more it controls and is under the central control of Moscow the better it is for Russia. Russia will not let Azerbaijan have Karabakh in full, that is the only way it will have its fingers intertwined and connected to Azerbaijan. Without that it loses its influence. In the end, Russia is the guarantor of the south Caucasus as I said before, it will not let the south become what it was before. It did however need to let Azerbaijan have a bite, for now Azerbaijan is satisfied.

  7. Russia was never fully on our side regarding NKR. Moreover, it had/has no obligations towards NKR. NKR was OUR fight and we knew this. It was us that screwed it up. No one forced Armenians to elect an anti-Russia and anti-Artsakh street scoundrel on the payroll of Western and Turkish interests, not once but twice. Nikol STILL enjoys great popularity, not only in Armenia but also in the diaspora.

    Getting back to Artsakh: Had we understood Russia, history and geopolitics, we would have pulled back from the 7 territories outside the internationally recognized borders of NKR and invited Russian troops in, and would have done it many-many years ago. And had we done it, the picture today would have been vastly different.

    Armenia has had the history it has had because for the most part Armenians tend to be politically illiterate, narrow minded arrogant, shortsighted and suffer from cognitive dissonance and delusions.

    Politics is an exact science, an artform and a master level game of chess combined in one package. Those who understand this and play the game well, live and prosper. Those who don’t, die or barely survive. For Armenians, politics is nothing more than a street fight or a domestic dispute. Therefore, the ultimate authors of all the black pages in our history is us…

    • First off, much of those so-called seven districts were integral parts of NKR territory back a century ago when they were taken from the Armenians illegally and placed under enemy control as part of the good old divide-and-rule Soviet Russian policy. To reduce tension and to appease the local Armenian population this Armenian enemy-occupied territory of NKR was declared autonomous. But by that time, the newly and artificially invented so-called “Azerbaijani People’s/Democratic Republic” of 1918-1920 turned Soviet republic the following year had already chipped away several regions from NKR and had integrated them into the so-called “Azerbaijan-SSR” of 1921. Therefore those so-called seven regions were never part of artificial Azerbaijan in the first place.

      Secondly, if there is such thing as “internationally recognized borders” then why is it that it is always the Turkish terrorists who are given a pass by this very same international community and ignore those internationally recognized borders of sovereign countries in the region invading and occupying their territories with their criminal Turkish troops such as the Turkish invasion and incursions into the sovereign territories of Iraq, Syria and Northern Cyprus?

      Lastly, if there is such thing as “internationally recognized borders” then why is it that the territorial integrity of Serbia was breached in late last century and an artificial republic by the name of “Kosovo” was invented as a result of the Balkan wars of 1990s? Why is it that very same so-called “law abiding” international community gave Kosovo away based on People’s Self-Determination in this case but did not do so for the native Armenians of Artsakh with 95% majority Armenian population? As you can see there is no such thing as what you are so relentlessly advocating and blaming the Armenian victims of the deceptive and duplicitous international community! Stop fooling yourself!

  8. While Nikol Pachynian’s remark is understandably construed to be a veiled criticism of Russia, but it also is a rebuke of CSTO whose professed goal is the collective security of the member countries. An attack on any one of them is expected to be treated as an attack on all. But we all know where the true allegiance of the other members, namely of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, lays.

  9. This former failed journalist turned make-believe Armenian Prime Minister is Armenia’s embarrassment. He is criticizing Russia’s role in Artsakh when in fact It was because of his incompetence and lack of patriotism that the Russian occupying forces, disguised as peacekeepers, are in Artsakh in the first place. This sorry excuse of a leader must be suffering from amnesia. He has made so many irresponsible statements detrimental to the Armenian nation as whole and to the Armenian stance on Artsakh in particular that has placed the country in the state that it is and he now wonders why the enemy behaves the way it does? How does he think that filthy and despicable enemy will behave itself when he stands in front of the entire nation in the Armenian Parliament and questions the validity and the authenticity of the now enemy-occupied cultural capital of Artsakh, the town of Shushi, and whether or not it is Armenian or Azerbaijani when according to him the majority population of the town was Azerbaijani back in 1920 without taking into account and realizing that this town was ethnically-cleansed and emptied of the native Armenian population as a result of a joint Turkish and Azerbaijani attack which burnt down the entire Armenian populated regions of this town and caused the massacre of 20,000 Armenians there. The Western Armenian provinces today under Turkish occupation had two million plus Armenian population before 1915 Armenian Genocide and today there are no Armenians living there. Using his own twisted logic, can he also claim Western Armenia is Turkish because there are no Armenians living there today? This guy is delusional and out of touch with reality. He would have voluntarily stepped down from his post and resigned two years ago if he had any sense of Armenian pride and even an ounce of dignity left in him!

  10. Did Armenia recognize Artsakh as an independent formation? No. So why are we asking Russia to recognize it? The trouble is that there are no ethnic Russians in Russia ruling apparatus. And most likely the plan has been to put pressure on Armenia all these years to not recognize Artsakh. Previous Armenian leaders could not destroy Armenia all the way. They had hesitation. So Pashinian was hired to complete the job.

  11. Politics is science when taught in a school. In real life it is several mafia groups trying to please one criminal formation at the very top of the pyramid. In other words they are not independent. They have a master. Think on what that master is. The lies and the actions are almost the same century after century.

  12. Dear Mr Pashinoghlu,
    We know that you had a visit from the CIA and FBI and you got your hopes so high. Please get some decent advisors around you. We know that Russia is our number one enemy…..nor parilouys…. but keep your mouth shut and work on your army, and let the diaspora help and advise you. If you had one gram of brain by now, you would have resigned by now but you still drag the country with your idiocy

  13. ARMENIA STUPIDLY CONTINUES TO RELY ON OTHER NATIONS TO SAVE, HELP, AND PROTECT ARMENIA. AT THIS POINT, AND AFTER THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF HISTORY WITH OUTSIDE NATIONS ABUSING, SAVAGING, AND RAPING ARMENIA, ARMENIA DESERVES WHAT HAPPENS TO HER BECAUSE IT DOES NOT LEARN HER LESSON. THE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT WERE STOLEN AND MISMANAGED IN ARMENIA SHOULD HAVE BEEN POURED INTO ITS MILITARY, EDUCATION AND MODERNIZATION. THREE DECADES LATER, ARMENIA STILL DOES NOT HAVE PAVED ROADS AND PEOPLE FIVE MINUTES OUT OF YEREVAN LIVE IN SHIT HOLE CONDITIONS. WHAT A WASTE.

  14. For what reason was the Lachin corridor ceaded for an alternative route. If an alternative corridor is to be built, why wasn’t Lachin remained as the connection point between Armenia and Artsakh?
    The pictures of the homes in Aghvano and the other two villages, looked like new/modern domiciles, with their red roofs.
    What a failure in negotiations is give up a 30 year corridor with established villages!!
    Pashinyan has blundered in so many ways that it is not only a shame, but, down right embarrassing!!

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