Kremlin questions Pelosi’s trip to Russia’s ally
The Kremlin has expressed skepticism over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Armenia and her condemnation of Azerbaijan over the latest border clashes.
Pelosi visited the Armenian capital Yerevan on Sunday and accused Azerbaijan of launching an “illegal and deadly” cross-border attack against Armenia earlier in the week. Baku claimed it retaliated after provocations from Yerevan.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that while Russia welcomed any genuine effort to defuse tensions between the two sides, the US official’s comments were not very diplomatic.
“Can actions and statements as brazen as hers actually help with normalization? We’ll see, time will tell,” Peskov told journalists, adding that Moscow’s preference is for “quiet” diplomacy in such scenarios.
Pelosi also used the visit to criticize Russia’s military cooperation with Armenia, saying Armenians “were disappointed they got fact-finders and not protection,” from the relationship, suggesting Washington may be a better guarantor of security.
Pelosi was referring to the response of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which Yerevan had called on to deploy troops in response to the flare-up. The CSTO sent a fact-finding mission to inspect the region, and mission chief Col. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov stated that the organization “prioritizes political-diplomatic methods” and is “not in a rush to draw the saber.”
Some Armenian officials were disappointed, with Armen Grigoryan, chair of the Armenian National Security Council, hinting that Yerevan could withdraw from the CSTO.
During Pelosi’s trip, several hundred people gathered in the Armenian capital to demand the country quit the organization. The activists gathered outside of the venue hosting the US official, waving Armenian and American flags and claiming that Washington should replace Moscow as Yerevan’s primary defense ally.
Major protests in the centre of Yerevan today amid US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s historic visit to Armenia.Demonstrators waving American flags and calling on Western nations for support. pic.twitter.com/xy0bOA7odP— Gabriel Gavin (@GabrielCSGavin) September 18, 2022
The conflict between the former Soviet republics centers on the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, mostly populated by ethnic Armenians. Yerevan has backed the region’s push for independence since it sought to break away from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, but Baku claims the territory as its own.
In 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh, which ended with a Russia-brokered truce and the ceding of some territories to Baku.