© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference after her meeting in the House of Representatives of the German Parliament in Berlin, Germany, September 16, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Mang/File Photo
TBILISI (Reuters) – US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday strongly condemned what she said were “illegal” border attacks by Azerbaijan into Armenia, using a visit to ally Russia to pledge to support the sovereignty of the United States over its sovereignty.
Pelosi made her trip to Armenia, a swath of land the size of the US state of Maryland located between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Iran, as an effort to bolster support for what she considered a beacon of “democracy”.
Speaking in the quaint city of Yerevan, Pelosi said her trip was meaningful after “Azerbaijan’s illegal and deadly attacks on Armenian territory” that sparked border clashes that left more than 200 people dead. die.
“We strongly condemn those attacks,” Pelosi said alongside Armenian speaker of parliament Alen Simonyan, who last week expressed displeasure with the response of a Russian-led military alliance to the ask Yerevan for help.
Pelosi, who angered China with a trip to Taiwan last month, made it clear that the border fighting was triggered by Azeri’s attacks on Armenia and that the timing of the conflict needed to be clarified. conflict.
“The war was started by the Azeri and it needs to be recognized,” Pelosi said.
Such explicit attribution of responsibility for the conflict goes beyond what the US State Department has publicly stated so far. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken expressed concern about the fighting and called for calm but did not place blame.
Armenia says Azerbaijan shelled at least six Armenian settlements inside the border shortly after midnight on September 13, attacking civilian and military infrastructure with drones and large-caliber guns. great. Yerevan said it was an act of gratuitous aggression.
Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, denies those claims. Baku said that Armenian sabotage units tried to exploit Azeri’s positions, prompting a reaction from soldiers. Armenia says that story is Azeri’s misinformation.
Azerbaijan did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pelosi’s remarks.
BACKYARD OF RUSSIA
Russia, which has repeatedly condemned Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, considers the Caucasus to be its own sphere of influence and is always tense about what it caused when the US intervened in the region.
However, Moscow is preoccupied with the war in Ukraine that has sparked the biggest confrontation with the West since the height of the Cold War.
Russia is Armenia’s major military ally, has a military base in northern Armenia and peacekeepers along the line of communication in Nagorno-Karabakh where Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war in 2020.
President Vladimir Putin on Friday said Russia has enough resources to mediate in the conflict. The latest fighting ended after a Russian-brokered ceasefire.
But after calling for help, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance of former Soviet republics, including Armenia, not Azerbaijan, decided to plans to send a monitoring mission on Tuesday.
Armenian Parliament Speaker Simonyan said he was not satisfied with the response, likening the CSTO to a pistol that does not fire bullets.
Speaking alongside Pelosi, US Representative Frank Pallone said the US wants to do whatever it can to provide more support for Armenia’s security.
The United States, Pelosi said, is listening to Armenia about what their defense needs are and says Washington wants to help and support Armenia in what she presents as a global struggle between democracy and autocracy. .
“We should use our influence, our leverage shows that Armenia’s democracy and sovereignty are the priority,” Pelosi said. “The velvet revolution has been cheered around the globe.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan came to power in 2018 following anti-government protests known as the Armenian Velvet Revolution.
Pelosi said it was interesting that Armenia was disappointed by the response from Russia.
“Interestingly they were frustrated because they had fact-finding and unprotected people from that relationship and we’ll see what happens next,” she said.