State Department denies Blinken warned about risk of Azerbaijan attacking Armenia
The US State Department has denied a Politico report citing US lawmakers that claimed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken told them that Azerbaijan might invade Armenia in the coming weeks.
The target of the Azerbaijani attack, Blinken said, will be the southern Syunik region of Armenia, Politico reported. Blinken also said the US was seeking to hold Azerbaijan responsible and was not planning to “renew a long-standing waiver that allows the U.S. to provide military assistance to Baku”.
At the time of publication, the US State Department refused to give comments to Politico about the alleged conversation, saying only that it supports Armenia’s sovereignty.
Congressman Frank Pallone appeared to confirm the reports in a tweet, saying that “Aliyev is moving forward with his objective to take Southern Armenia”, and that he urged Blinken to impose sanctions against Azerbaijan.
Two days after the report, the Armenian state news agency, Armenpress, got comments from the State Department, denying the information in the article, calling it “inaccurate”.
“The reporting in this article is inaccurate and in no way reflects what Secretary Blinken said to lawmakers,” the department said, adding that the United States “ strongly supports” Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The State Department did not specify which parts of Politico’s reports were not true.
“Four people told me that Secretary Blinken had an October 3 call with a group of lawmakers, and two of those four said that Blinken said the State was tracking the possibility that Azerbaijan would invade in the coming weeks”, Eric Bazail-Eimil, a journalist from Politico insisted on Twitter.
The fears of a new escalation have grown in Armenia since Azerbaijan’s attack on Nagorno-Karabakh in late September, with many in the country fearing that Baku might want to take the “Zangezur corridor” — a road connecting Azerbaijan to its enclave of Nakhchivan — by force. Armenian ambassador to the European Union, Tigran Balayan, had stated earlier in October that Azerbaijan will attack Armenia in the coming weeks if the West does not take “sharp” steps, calling for sanctions against Baku.
The Western countries have made it clear that sanctions against Azerbaijan are not on the table. The EU officials have repeatedly warned that the escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh would harm EU-Azerbaijan relations, yet refrained from threatening Baku with sanctions or review of the gas deal with it. At the same time, a number of Western officials stated that Baku had broken its promise of not using force in Karabakh, when it attacked the region on September 19.
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