EU’s visit to Armenia will escalate tensions, claims Russia
Russia charged the EU on Thursday with attempting to incite “geopolitical tension” by deploying a civilian team to monitor the tense border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Despite being weighed down by its offensive in Ukraine, Moscow has attempted to keep up its position as a mediator between the former Soviet republics.
The EU strengthened its position in an area that the Kremlin considers to be its sphere of influence on Monday by launching a civilian mission to assist in observing the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The expedition was started amid what Armenia described as a “humanitarian crisis” that is wreaking havoc in Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist area.
Since the middle of December, a group of Azerbaijanis has been blocking the only route from Armenia into Karabakh in protest of what they claim is illegal mining causing environmental harm and depleting supplies of food, medicine, and fuel in the mountainous region, which is home to about 120,000 people.
The EU mission, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, “would only fuel geopolitical tension in the region and worsen the current problems,” they warned on Thursday.
Moscow charged that the EU was attempting to undermine Russia in order to increase its influence in the area.
The Foreign Ministry stated that “the attempts of the European Union to create a foothold in Armenia at any cost and to restrain Russia’s mediation efforts can hurt Armenians and Azerbaijanis’ fundamental interests.”
“We are confident that the Russian peacekeeping force will continue to be the most important factor for stability and security in the region for the foreseeable future.”
Armenia has expressed shock at what it perceives as Moscow’s failure to stop the region’s ongoing tensions. It claims that the blockade has not been stopped by Russian peacekeepers stationed in the area.
The EU mission has the backing of the United States.
State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters, “We applaud efforts by allies including the European Union to establish confidence in the region and to maintain a setting favourable to direct engagement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
By holding frequent meetings with the presidents of the two nations, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also increased Washington’s involvement in diplomatic efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He pushed Azerbaijan to remove the roadblock on Karabakh earlier this week.