Hundreds of Armenian citizens staged a protest in front of the Russian embassy in Yerevan on Tuesday, demanding that Moscow intervene to stop Azerbaijan’s military offensive in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The protesters waved the flag of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and blocked all entrances to the building, preventing the normal activity of the diplomatic staff. Some of them clashed with the police, who tried to disperse the crowd and restore order.
The protest was sparked by Azerbaijan’s announcement that it had launched a large-scale operation to “restore the constitutional order” in Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians. The operation, which began on September 19, involved heavy shelling and air strikes on several locations in Nagorno-Karabakh, including its de facto capital Stepanakert. According to the latest information published by the Ombudsman of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, 25 people have been killed and another 138 have been injured as a result of the hostilities.
The protesters in Yerevan accused Russia of betraying its ally Armenia and failing to fulfill its peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia has a military base in Armenia and is a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, which mediates the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In November 2020, Russia brokered an armistice between Armenia and Azerbaijan that ended a 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh, which resulted in Azerbaijan regaining control over parts of the region and surrounding territories. Russia also deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers to patrol the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.
However, in 2022, Russia began withdrawing its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh, citing security concerns and budget constraints. This move allowed Azerbaijan to blockade Nagorno-Karabakh, preventing basic supplies from reaching the population and increasing the humanitarian crisis in the region.
Armenia has repeatedly called on Russia to resume its peacekeeping role and to pressure Azerbaijan to lift the blockade and respect the ceasefire agreement. However, Russia has maintained a neutral stance on the conflict, urging both sides to refrain from violence and to resume dialogue through the OSCE Minsk Group framework.
The protesters in Yerevan expressed their frustration and anger with Russia’s position, chanting slogans such as “Russia is an enemy”, “Russia out of Armenia”, and “Russia, stop genocide”. They also burned pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin and threw eggs and stones at the embassy building. Some of them demanded that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan resign for his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and for his perceived subservience to Moscow. Pashinyan has faced widespread criticism and protests since he signed the 2020 peace deal with Azerbaijan, which many Armenians saw as a humiliating defeat and a betrayal of their national interests.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the violence at the Russian embassy and apologizing for any inconvenience caused to the diplomatic staff. The ministry also said that it was working with the police to ensure the security and normal functioning of the embassy.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it had sent a note to Armenia’s Foreign Ministry asking to restore order at the embassy and to prevent any further incidents. The ministry also said that it hoped that Armenia would respect its obligations under international law and protect the rights and interests of foreign diplomatic missions on its territory.
The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh remains tense and volatile, as both Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of violating the ceasefire and escalating the conflict.
The international community has expressed its concern over the renewed violence and called for an immediate de-escalation and a peaceful resolution of the dispute.