Armenia turns to US for support, security official accuses Azerbaijan of using 'force' to resolve disputes




  • In World
  • 2022-09-30 17:25:25Z
  • By Fox News

Following deadly clashes with Azerbaijan, Armenia has found greater support from the U.S. than it has from its historic ally Russia, with officials "concerned" about Russia's continued supply of weapons to its rival.

"[The international community] should take the steps, as we see [the] United States has taken: [the] United States has been very direct," Armen Grigoryan, Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia, told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview. "They called [for] withdrawal of Azerbaijani forces from sovereign territory of Armenia, and we think that the international community should condemn the use of force as it was done by Azerbaijan, and the international community should support the diplomatic engagement."

Fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sept. 13 when Azeri forces launched an attack against their western neighbor. The attack led to about 50 deaths on both sides, and each nation's officials accused the others of provocation over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Nagorno-Karabakh, populated mostly by Armenians, was an autonomous region inside Azerbaijan during the Soviet era. Historic tensions between Christian Armenians and mostly Muslim Azerbaijanis exploded in the final years of the Soviet Union. The mountainous area is around the size of Delaware.

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In an address to the United Nations, Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov countered Armenian claims of aggression by accusing the Armenians of committing "ethnic cleansing," "illegal settlement" and "blatant violation of international humanitarian law" over the past 30 years.

Bayramov insisted that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's speech to the United Nations General Assembly was "yet another evidence demonstrating" a desire to focus on "confrontation instead of normalization."

"In Azerbaijan, we believe that our region has seen enough confrontation, destruction and suffering," the minister said. "It is high time for both our nations to engage fully and wholeheartedly in the post-conflict normalization, so we can finally turn over the tragic page of our history and start building a better future for our children."

"The commitment of [the] Azerbaijan side is there," he continued. "We hope that Armenia will finally reciprocate constructively and engage genuinely into the negotiations."

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NATO member Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, also laid blame for violence on Armenia. Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan earlier this month expressed support for Azerbaijan, saying that Turkey and Azerbaijan are "brotherly … in all matters" and accusing Armenia of "unacceptable" actions, but he struck a more conciliatory tone in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly when he said he believed peace was possible between the two countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin moved swiftly to broker a peace deal, but even as Armenia and Azerbaijan test the limits of patience in holding to that deal, Armenia has claimed that Russia continues to supply Azerbaijan with the very weapons used in the attack.

Grigoryan said that Russia's role as an Azeri weapons supplier is "nothing new" and a "long story" that Armenia has raised with Moscow.

"It's public information: Yes, it's true," he insisted. "And that concerns us very much, and it's not a new story."

Armenia has historically turned to Russia as one of its most significant allies due to the fact that both are Christian-majority nations in an otherwise Muslim region. Russia has strong economic and military ties with Armenia, and the city of Gyumri, Armenia, is home to a Russian military base, but Russia has also worked to develop cooperation with energy-rich Azerbaijan. Russia's actions appear to mainly serve its desire to avoid distractions as the invasion in Ukraine drags on and grows more difficult for Moscow.

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Instead, Armenia has found more explicit support from the U.S. after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to visit the nation in the wake of Azerbaijan's attack. Pelosi denounced Azerbaijan's attack as "illegal," and the Azeris responded by dismissing her visit as "propaganda" filled with "unsubstantiated and unfair accusations."

"We strongly condemn those attacks, we in our delegation on behalf of Congress, which threatens prospects for a much-needed peace agreement," said Pelosi, D-Calif., adding that the conflict "was initiated by the Azeris, and there has to be recognition of that." The delegation included Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.; Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.; and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.

The Azerbaijan Mission to the United Nations did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the prime minister of Armenia and the president of Azerbaijan. Grigoryan said the U.S. played a "crucial" role in preventing further escalation in the region and called for the international community to follow America's lead to seek further diplomatic engagement. Armenia said prior to the High-Level Week at the United Nations that it would raise the issue of Azerbaijan's attack to the Security Council.

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"Our assessment continues to be that Azerbaijan continues to aim for larger, further occupied territories in Armenia and further escalating the situation in the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan," Grigoryan explained. "And they see in [the] 21st century solving the problem with … force. This is very concerning."

Bayramov recently met with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss cooperation with the organization, and Guterres made clear his desire for Armenia and Azerbaijan to find a peaceful solution to their conflict.

"Armenia is ready for diplomatic engagement, but we also publicly said we will not negotiate … when the gun is put on [our] head," Grigoryan stressed. "This is not our way of negotiating, and we are sure that the more active engagement of the international community in our region would be helpful to bring more stability and also peace."

Fox News' Laura Taglianetti and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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