By Guy Faulconbridge
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia told Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday that he had only himself to blame for Azerbaijan’s victory over Nagorno-Karabakh because he had insisted on flirting with the West rather than working with Moscow and Baku for peace.
Pashinyan said in an address to the nation on Sunday that Russia had failed Armenia by not providing more help to avert the crisis over the breakaway region, adding that he would have to transform Armenia’s security alliances.
Russia’s foreign ministry hit back with a strongly worded attack on Pashinyan.
“We are convinced that the Yerevan leadership is making a massive mistake by deliberately trying to destroy Armenia’s multi-faceted and centuries-old ties with Russia while making the country hostage to the geopolitical games of the West,” it said.
Azerbaijan seized Karabakh in a lightning offensive last week, sending thousands of ethnic Armenians fleeing into Armenia. Baku has promised to protect the rights of the roughly 120,000 Armenians who call Karabakh home but many refuse to accept its assurances.
Karabakh is internationally viewed as Azerbaijani territory.
Russia, which has about 2,000 peacekeepers in the region, said Pashinyan was trying to absolve himself “of responsibility for failures in domestic and foreign policy by shifting the blame to Moscow”.
Pashinyan’s remarks about transforming alliances indicate that he is preparing to pivot away from Armenia’s alliance with Moscow towards the West, the Russian foreign ministry said.
Russia said Pashinyan had “shied away from working in rhythm with Russia and Azerbaijan and instead had run to the West” to resolve the Karabakh crisis and that authorities in Yerevan had stoked anti-Russian hysteria in the Armenian media.
Moscow denied suggestions that it had any hand in protests in Yerevan and cautioned Pashinyan that while Russia did not stoke revolutions, the West did.
“The head of the Armenian government should be well aware that Moscow does not get involved in such things – unlike the West which is pretty adept at organizing ‘colour revolutions’,” Russia said.
Russia blames the United States for stoking so-called colour revolutions in several post-Soviet republics including Ukraine.
(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones)