Moscow summons Armenian envoy, gives him a 'tough presentation'
Russia protested a number of issues to the Armenian ambassador, including Yerevan's announcement of hosting joint military drills with the US next week.
The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Armenia's ambassador to Moscow on Friday to protest Yerevan's recent "unfriendly steps," including its announcement of joint exercises with the United States.
Armenia announced this week that it would be hosting joint war games with US forces, dubbed "Eagle Partner 2023," between September 11-20, alleging that this step is part of the country's preparation to partake in international peacekeeping missions.
"The Armenian leadership had in recent days taken a series of unfriendly steps," the Russian ministry said in a statement.
Russia also conveyed its objection to a trip made to Kiev recently by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's wife.
Yerevan recently increased its criticism of Russia's peacekeeping role in Nagorno Karabakh, a region disputed between the country and Azerbaijan, claiming that the mission has failed to fulfill its task of protecting civilians and ensuring their freedom of passage through the key corridor in Azerbaijani-controlled areas in Karabakh.
A clash between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, which lasted for six weeks and saw the death of over 6,500 troops from both sides, ended with a ceasefire accord sponsored by Russia. Moscow sent 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the truce, but tensions remain despite a ceasefire deal.
Precarious situation at border
Armenia's envoy received a "tough presentation," said the Russian ministry, but stressed that both countries "remain allies and all agreements on developing the strengthening of the partnership will be fulfilled."
The Armenian Defense Ministry issued a statement on Friday, underscoring the precarious situation prevailing at the border with Azerbaijan due to the apparent buildup of Azerbaijani military forces, which in response prompted the Armenian Armed Forces to take measures aimed at maintaining stability and deterring potential provocations.
Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on the same day that Yerevan was using combat drones to target Azerbaijani positions within the Kalbajar District, which led to the injury of two of the country's soldiers. Correspondingly, Armenia accused Baku of launching artillery attacks on Armenian positions along the border, resulting in the killing of three Armenian soldiers and the injury of two more.
The Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict has been largely centered around the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is an internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan populated mostly by ethnic Armenians that has been a source of conflict between the two Caucasus neighbors dating back to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
This recent escalation follows a recurring pattern of periodic exchanges of fire along the border between the two neighboring rivals. The most significant flare-up in hostilities took place on September 12, 2022, leaving regional observers wary of a possible repeat of such confrontations.
Despite occasional talks on a peace agreement to resolve disputes and normalize relations, tensions remain high and border clashes are common. In two days of fighting in September of last year, around 300 soldiers were killed on both sides.