General

Russia expects Lachin corridor to be unblocked soon

Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that he expects the situation in the Lachin corridor connecting Armenia to the Karabakh region to be settled soon.

Azerbaijan provided data to the Russian military showing that Armenia used the route to transport mines which were used to mine territory next to Azerbaijani positions in violation of the peace agreements, Sergey Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow on the results of Russia’s diplomatic activities in 2022.

While the Russian military is acting on the information, Moscow proposed allowing Russian peacekeepers to monitor traffic along the corridor and check vehicles for the presence of prohibited items.

"Yesterday (Tuesday) or the day before yesterday, meetings between representatives of Azerbaijan and representatives of Karabakh with the participation of the commander of the Russian contingent took place. I think that the issue (of unblocking the Lachin corridor) will be settled in the near future," he said.

Lavrov warned Yerevan against the deployment of a "civil monitoring mission" on the border with Azerbaijan without Baku's consent.

"The Armenian side prefers to negotiate with the EU so that a civilian observer mission can be stationed there (in Karabakh) on a long-term basis. This is the border with Azerbaijan, so if this mission unfolds without the consent of Azerbaijan, it may simply be counterproductive. Instead of building trust at the border, it can create additional irritants," he said.

Lavrov added that Yerevan insisted on including a tough condemnation of Azerbaijan in a joint statement of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which among other things named terms of organizing a CSTO monitoring mission.

"If we speak about expressing a position, everyone is free to do anything. But sending a CSTO mission should not be conditioned by making statements, especially tough ones," he said.

Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan had been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

In the fall of 2020, during 44 days of heavy fighting, Azerbaijan liberated a significant part of Karabakh and a Russian-brokered peace agreement was subsequently signed, considered a triumph in Baku.

Situation in Syria and signing peace treaty with Japan

On the situation in Syria, Lavrov said agreements between Russia and Türkiye on Syria remain "actual" and that it is necessary to seek their implementation.

"We understand the concerns of our Turkish colleagues about this problem. We understand their irritation that the US wants to use the Kurds there (in Syria), firstly, to create a quasi-state in eastern Syria, and secondly, for these Kurds to fulfill Washington's instructions and create some kind of irritants in the region," he said.

Lavrov confirmed that Russia has not fulfilled all its obligations under the agreement on Syria with Türkiye, claiming that Ankara also has difficulties in implementing its part of the agreements, such as organizing joint patrols on the M4 highway.

On signing a peace treaty with Japan, which has not been signed since 1945, Lavrov said Moscow offered to Tokyo to sign the treaty first, stipulating the principles of mutual respect and good neighborliness, and then proceed to the discussions of the territorial disputes.

According to Lavrov, Japan wanted to do vice versa, first to make Russia recognize Tokyo's sovereignty over the Kuril Islands and then sign a peace treaty.

At the 1945 Yalta Conference, the Soviet Union agreed to start military operations on the eastern front under an agreement with its western allies and in exchange received some Japanese territories, including the Kuril Islands.

But with the start of the Cold War, the West encouraged Japan to reject the Soviet Union's sovereignty over the islands.

Due to the dispute, Russia and Japan have never signed a peace treaty and are technically still at war. As both sides claim the territories, the question of the Kurils' sovereignty remains uncertain.

Tokyo regularly protests visits of Russian officials to the islands.

Russian authorities fear the possible deployment of US missile systems on the islands if they are returned to Japan, creating a direct military threat to Russia.

US seeks 'final solution of Russian question' as Hitler wanted to solve 'Jewish question'

Lavrov said what is happening in Ukraine today is the result of the global and hybrid war against Russia which the US has been preparing for many years and that the European Union completely lost its independence and became subject to "American dictates."

"Europe has lost its independence. The joint declaration of NATO and the EU made Europeans directly subject to the North Atlantic Alliance," he said.

He pointed out that the US formed a coalition of European countries against Russia, comparing it to actions by Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, who in their times also mobilized all Europe against Russia.

He said the US seeks "a final solution of the Russian question" as Hitler was doing towards Jews.

"The US formed a coalition of almost all Europeans who are members of NATO and the EU and through Ukraine ‘by proxy’ are waging war against our country with the same task – the final solution of the ‘Russian question.’ Hitler wanted to finally solve the ‘Jewish question,’" he recalled.

Commenting on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's 10-point "peace formula," Lavrov said Russia will be ready to consider serious proposals for negotiations with Ukraine, but so far, Kyiv has not presented any.

Lavrov also criticized a US draft law on countering Russia's cooperation with African countries as "colonial mentality in a new dimension."

He stressed that if Washington respects the "sovereign equality of states" stipulated by the UN Charter, it has to spare the countries the right to build relations with other states as they deem necessary.

"The sovereign equality of states is the principle on which the UN is based…Every day and every hour, the US defies this principle," Lavrov said.

The minister said the second Russia-Africa Summit will take place in Saint Petersburg in July this year and cooperation in the condition of sanctions, including increasing payments in national currencies, will be an important topic on its agenda.

Source: Anadolu Agency