Moscow Doubts Sincerity of U.S. Statements on Karabakh

The village of Parukh in Artsakh's Askeran region

Russia voiced doubts about the sincerity of a recent statement made by the United States, which claimed it is ready to work with Russia, despite a complete severing of relations, on the Karabakh conflict settlement process.

During a weekend interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried insisted that the U.S. is willing to continue to cooperate with Russia in facilitating a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova on Wednesday accused the U.S. and France of abandoning the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs process in mediating a settlement for the Karabakh conflict.

“I, myself, doubt the sincerity of the statement by Karen Donfried. If Washington and Paris had considered the unique mediation format of the Minsk Group really important, they would not have ignored that mandate approved by all participating states of the OSCE and would not have demonstratively stopped the contacts with the Russian Co-Chair on February 24 without any consultation,” said Zakharova.

“This caused an irreversible damage to the work of the Co-Chairs. And now they are making such statements,” she explained adding that the Washington and Paris have not provided a “concrete explanation” over their so-called abandonment of the Minsk Group process.

Donfired, who was in Armenia as part of her Caucasus tour, denied this when asked for a clarification.

“The U.S. has continued to say that we support the Minsk Group co-chair process,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service in the interview. “We continue to believe that it is a very important format, particularly on Nagorno-Karabakh, and it is essential that we keep various formats in play to try to advance peace. And we will continue to do that going forward.”

Asked whether Washington is ready for fresh contacts with Moscow for that purpose, Donfried said: “Yes. Russia is a Minsk Group co-chair. France, the U.S. and Russia would continue in that format.”

Zakharova on Wednesday reiterated Moscow’s longstanding support for efforts by Armenia and Azerbaijan to open transit links and border communications.

“The Russian side is interested in the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. It cannot allow the politicized steps of some foreign players to thwart the already difficult efforts to restore peace and stability in the region. We will continue to do everything depending on us for the unconditional fulfillment of obligations and those tasks that have been recorded in the statements of the leaders of the three countries,” Zakharova added.