Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stresses the need for strict compliance of the deal between Yerevan and Baku that Moscow helped negotiate to avert more conflict.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said "Russian peacekeepers are doing everything possible to ensure order and calm in the territories where they are deployed." (Reuters Archive)

Armenian officials are refusing to take part in a meeting scheduled for Friday in Moscow in preparation for a peace agreement with Azerbaijan, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

In a phone call on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov informed "with regret" his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov about Armenia's decision, according to a statement on the ministry website.

"The situation in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, which has worsened due to the closure of the Lachin corridor and disagreements between the parties on the development of ore deposits in the region, was discussed,” said the statement, referring to a road used by Armenia to access parts of the Karabakh region.

Azerbaijani non-governmental organisations at the Lachin corridor have been protesting the “illegal exploitation of natural resources” and other illegal activities by Armenia, but they have not “closed” or blocked the corridor, according to Azerbaijan.

"Sergey Lavrov stressed the need for strict compliance with the trilateral agreements on ensuring unhindered communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia along the Lachin corridor," the Russian statement added.

READ MORE: Türkiye urges Armenia to take confidence-building measures, sign peace deal

"Continuation of the rhythmic work"

Lavrov also underlined the importance of continuing "the rhythmic work" of implementing trilateral statements of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, signed in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

In a separate statement on Thursday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused the Russian peacekeeping mission in Karabakh of failing to fulfill its duties.

Since December 12, Azerbaijani ecologists representing NGOs have been protesting what it calls as Armenia’s illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Karabakh region, where Russian peacekeepers have been stationed since the aftermath of the fall 2020 conflict in the region.

Baku claims the protest was spontaneous and civilian transport can move freely in both directions between Armenia and Karabakh.

But Yerevan has accused it of staging the demonstrations and Pashinyan said Thursday that "the crisis in the Lachin corridor has not yet been resolved."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said "Russian peacekeepers are doing everything possible to ensure order and calm in the territories where they are deployed."

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

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six-week war in autumn 2020.

The fighting claimed more than 6,500 lives and ended with a Russian-brokered truce that saw Yerevan cede territories it had controlled for decades.

Moscow stationed peacekeepers in parts of Karabakh that remained under Armenian separatist control, including the Lachin corridor.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists in Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. The ensuing conflict claimed around 30,000 lives.

READ MORE: Can Azerbaijan and Armenia find lasting peace?

Source: AA