Nancy Pelosi Visits Armenia While Azerbaijan Armistice Is In Force


The US House Speaker’s visit to Yerevan comes days after deadly border clashes erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has arrived in Armenia, where a ceasefire has been held following an outbreak of fighting with neighboring Azerbaijan that killed hundreds of troops from both sides.

Pelosi arrived in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Saturday.

She is the most senior US official to have traveled to Armenia since the impoverished country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The US embassy said the president’s visit will include a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. On Friday, Pelosi told reporters in Berlin that the trip “is all about human rights and respecting the dignity and worth of every person”.

Other U.S. lawmakers accompanying Pelosi include Frank Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and congresswomen Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo.

Armenia’s president Alen Simonyan told reporters that Pelosi’s three-day visit will “play a huge role in ensuring our security”.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars – in 2020 and in the 1990s – over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian-populated enclave of Azerbaijan.

The 2020 war claimed the lives of more than 6,500 troops from both sides and ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire. Under that agreement, Armenia ceded parts of the territory it had controlled for decades, and Moscow deployed about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the fragile ceasefire.

Russia is a military ally of Armenia that also seeks friendly relations with Azerbaijan.

On Tuesday, the worst clashes since the 2020 conflict erupted, with Baku and Yerevan taking the blame for the “intense” shelling. Armenia accused Azerbaijan of unprovoked aggression, but officials in Baku said their army was responding to Armenian attacks.

Pashinyan said at least 135 Armenian troops were killed in the fighting, while Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said it had lost 77.

Hostilities ended Thursday with the mediation of the “international community,” officials in Yerevan said.

Russia took credit for the ceasefire.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Friday that the latest clashes were “localized” under the “influence” of Moscow. When asked if Russia had the resources to maintain its influence in the region, given Moscow’s focus on the nearly seven-month conflict in Ukraine, he replied: “As you can see, there are plenty.”

However, the US disputes Russia’s claims.

A US official told Reuters news agency at the time of the ceasefire that Washington saw “no indication that Russia’s efforts contributed positively to securing the most recent ceasefire”.

And in a sign of potential challenges, Armenian speaker Simonyan last week expressed displeasure at the response of a Russian-led military alliance to Yerevan’s request for assistance, Interfax news agency reported.

Armenia has asked the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to intervene, but so far it has just sent an investigation team to the region.

“We are of course very dissatisfied. The expectations we had were not justified,” Simonyan told national television, comparing the CSTO to a gun that did not fire bullets, Interfax said.

He noted that Armenia also had a treaty on mutual assistance with Russia, saying “we expect more tangible steps from our Russian partners, not just statements or half words”.

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