Armenian officials are refusing to take part in a meeting scheduled for Friday in Moscow to prepare a peace agreement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
In a phone call, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov informed "with regret" his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov about Armenia's decision, according to a statement on the ministry website.
"The situation in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, which has worsened due to the closure of the Lachin corridor and disagreements between the parties on the development of ore deposits in the region, was discussed,” said the statement, referring to a road used by Armenia to access parts of the Karabakh region.
Azerbaijani non-governmental organizations at the Lachin corridor have been protesting the “illegal exploitation of natural resources” and other illegal activities by Armenia, but they have not “closed” or blocked the corridor, according to Azerbaijan.
"Sergey Lavrov stressed the need for strict compliance with the trilateral agreements on ensuring unhindered communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia along the Lachin corridor," the Russian statement added.
Lavrov also underlined the importance of continuing "the rhythmic work" of implementing trilateral statements of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, signed in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
In a separate statement on Thursday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused the Russian peacekeeping mission in Karabakh of failing to fulfill its duties.
Since Dec. 12, Azerbaijani ecologists representing NGOs have been protesting Armenia’s illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Karabakh region, where Russian peacekeepers have been stationed since the aftermath of the fall 2020 conflict in the region.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have 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, in 44 days of clashes, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages, and settlements from Armenian occupation. The Russian-brokered peace agreement is celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.