Russia says it is alarmed by 'insulting rhetoric' and ultimatums from Armenian leadership

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Wednesday it was alarmed by what it described as insulting rhetoric and ultimatums directed at Moscow from the political leadership of Armenia and advised Yerevan to use the proper communications channels instead.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was reacting to a statement made the previous day by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who said his country would leave the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) unless the security bloc detailed its commitment to uphold Armenia’s security in a satisfactory way.

Ties between Armenia, traditionally a close ally of Moscow and host to various Russian military facilities, are strained after Azerbaijan retook its breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in September last year despite the presence there of Russian peacekeepers.

The CSTO did not intervene either and the military action prompted a mass exodus of the area’s ethnic Armenian population to Armenia.

Zakharova said on Wednesday that Russia did not object to any country’s right to determine its own foreign policy based on its national interests, but said Armenia’s behaviour was improper.

“We cannot but be alarmed by the ultimatums and sometimes insulting rhetoric from the Armenian leadership,” she told a briefing.

“The consistent desire of parts of the Armenian elite to discuss the CSTO outside this organisation is puzzling.”

She advised Armenia to discuss the future of its membership of the CSTO within the CSTO and to use two-way communication channels with Russia for anything concerning bilateral ties.

Pashinyan has in recent months expressed discontent with Armenia’s longstanding ties with Russia and said Yerevan could no longer rely on Moscow to ensure its defence needs.

Armenian Foreign minister Ararat Mirzoyan said on Friday his country was also considering applying for European Union membership as it seeks to forge closer ties with the West.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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