Moscow Says Russia Should Monitor Azerbaijan-Nakhichevan Transport Route

Russian border guards at a checkpoint in Meghri, Armenia

Yerevan Reacts, Saying Armenia will Monitor its Own Routes

Russia on Thursday reiterated that it should monitor any future transport route linking Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan, insisting that this matter has been enshrined in the documents signed by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that according to the tripartite agreements, the monitoring of transport communication between Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan will be carried out by the agencies of the Border Guard Service of the FSB [Federal Security Service] of Russia,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova during a briefing on Thursday.

Yerevan was quick to respond by saying that in the event of opening regional routes, Armenia will carry out border and customs checks on its territory through its state institutions.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ani Badalyan said that this principle is one of the main aspects of the Armenian government’s “Crossroads of Peace” project.

“The Republic of Armenia has never, in any document, agreed to any limitation of its sovereignty, and the control of a third country cannot be established over any part of its sovereign territory,”  Badalyan stressed.

The Armenian foreign ministry spokesperson added that a special unit was recently created as part of Armenia’s National Security Service, whose task is to ensure the safety of these roads as well as the passage of goods, cargo, vehicles and people in the event of the opening of regional routes.

Zakharova also said that Russia is guided by the task of lifting the blockade of Armenia, including when it supported the resumption of dialogue between Armenia and Turkey. Zakharova reminded that the first meeting of the respective special representatives of the two countries was held on January 14, 2021 in Moscow.

“Russia also considers the 3+3 format another good platform for cooperation between the countries. In 2024, during the next session of the platform in Turkey, the topic of transport will also be considered. Within the framework of that format, Yerevan’s constructive proposal will be in demand, I am convinced,” Zakharova said.

During the three years since the signing of the so-called “tripartite” agreements, both Russia and Azerbaijan overtly have violated the provisions of the documents, with the most recent case being the non-responsive approach by Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh when Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack in September forcing the displacement of more than 100,000 Artsakh residents, which many rights advocated are calling a deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign.

Zakharova said that initiatives taken by Armenia have been consistent with the decisions of the working group, comprised of the deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, to tackle the unblocking of transport routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The Russian foreign ministry spokesperson said that Russia is convinced that unblocking process plays an important role in the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and contributes to stability as well as the opening of transit-logistics potential in the South Caucasus.

Zakharova lamented that disagreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to delay the process as envisioned by Russia. She emphasized that Russia has expressed its political will and will continue to support the process, but “one side’s political will is not enough,” she said.

Zakharova also announced that Russia will send 40 tons of humanitarian aid to Armenia in the coming days in response to the humanitarian crisis arising from the exodus of more than 100,000 displaced Artsakh residents.

“We [Russia] are assisting Armenia and the Armenians of Karabakh in the humanitarian sphere. Specifically, the government of the Russia Federation, taking into consideration the needs of the Armenian side, has prepared 40 tons of humanitarian aid. The humanitarian cargo includes a mobile power station that can supply energy to dozens of homes. The prepared humanitarian action complements the steps already taken to help the displaced people of Karabakh,” Zakharova explained.

She recalled that the Russian Humanitarian Mission project has already sent six tons of aid to Armenia that included 500 food kits, and 500 packages of personal hygiene products and household chemicals.

Zakharova added that on October 20 Russia sent 1.5 tons of humanitarian aid to various cities in Armenia, adding that forcibly displaced Artsakh residents who have settled in Armenia’s Syunik Province on a permanent basis have been receiving assistance from the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Company and a number of other Russian-affiliated institutions.