| 3 December 2023, Sunday |

Russia says US, France failed as ‘honest brokers’ in Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement

The US and France have failed to be “honest brokers” in the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, Russia said on Thursday.

Speaking at a press briefing in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said recent remarks by the US and French officials show that their real motives in the South Caucasus are aimed at undermining Russia’s position in the region.

In their recent statements, Washington and Paris blamed Moscow for the establishment of an Azerbaijani border checkpoint on the Lachin corridor, which links Armenia and Karabakh.

“The US and EU representatives, in particular France, positioned themselves as “honest brokers” in the process of Armenian-Azerbaijani normalization. They seem to fail … Attempts by French and American colleagues to convince that they are guided solely by the interests of achieving peace in the South Caucasus are disavowed by their regular anti-Russian attacks,” Zakharova said.

The new checkpoint has been operational since Sunday on the Lachin-Khankendi road (Lachin corridor), a road Armenia has used to access the Karabakh region.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

Most of the territory was liberated by Baku during a war in 2020 fall, which ended after a Russian-brokered peace agreement and opened the door to normalization.

Zakharova also said Moscow is making efforts through the Russian peacekeeping contingent on the ground and at the political level to resolve the situation around the Lachin corridor and return to the 2020 trilateral agreements.

She further said the Russian side also considers it “fundamentally important that Armenian authorities contribute to the search for mutually acceptable solutions.”

Commenting on remarks by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said he informed the Russian side about the progress in the implementation of the Russian part of the Black Sea grain deal, Zakharova said he spoke about “progress in attempts” to implement it while Moscow would like to see “progress in results.”

As for the possibilities for Ukraine to acquire nuclear weapons or create a “dirty bomb,” – an explosive device with nuclear parts, any signs of such activity are closely monitored by the relevant Russian agencies, she said.

About the US reaction to a phone talk between Chinese and Ukrainian presidents, Zakharova said Washington’s statements are contradictory.

“In deeds the US is doing everything to continue the conflict – increasing arms supplies, financing the Kiev regime and its crimes. They are certainly those who consider themselves beneficiaries from the continuation of hostilities,” she stressed.

In response to a question about the Group of Seven plans to ban any export to Russia, the spokeswoman said trade restrictions undermine the generally accepted principles of multilateral trade and competition, and completely devalue the norms of sovereign equality and mutually beneficial cooperation.

“The US does not care about the reverse losses, because the losses primarily concern the EU countries, and who in Washington does think about some other states?” she said.

“If new sanctions are imposed, we will react, but react, as always, thoughtfully, carefully, and guided by the tasks of protecting our interests,” she said.

Zakharova also said Russia is working with BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – on expanding payments in national currencies as part of countering sanctions.

  • Anadolu Agency