The Daily Telegraph

Pelosi cheered by Armenians as she criticises Azerbaijan

- By James Kilner

NANCY PELOSI yesterday called Azerbaijan­i attacks on Armenia “illegal” during a visit to Yerevan, the most senior visit by a US official since independen­ce from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Hundreds of Armenians cheered her convoy and waved US flags as she drove into Yerevan from the airport on Saturday evening, a visual challenge to the Kremlin which considers Armenia to be firmly in its sphere of influence.

Mrs Pelosi’s visit was a show of support for Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s prime minister, four days after fighting broke out between Azerbaijan­i and Armenian forces along their border.

“Today, from the US to Ukraine to Taiwan to Armenia, the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy and we must, again, choose democracy,” she said.

Around 200 soldiers died in fighting last week between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the worst since a 2020 war over the disputed region of Nagorno-karabakh. Backed by its ally Turkey, Azerbaijan defeated Armenia in the 2020 war. “[There were] illegal and deadly

‘Her urgent trip is a recognitio­n that Russia is no longer a guarantor of security in the region’

attacks by Azerbaijan on Armenian territory. We strongly condemn those attacks,” Mrs Pelosi said in Yerevan.

Analysts said that her visit and the failure of Russian peacekeepe­rs to stop Azerbaijan­i attacks this week highlighte­d the growing weakness of Vladimir Putin.

“Nancy Pelosi’s urgent trip to Yerevan is a recognitio­n that Russia is no longer a guarantor of security in the region,” said Greg Yudin, head of political philosophy at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences.

Last month Mrs Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representa­tives, also visited Taiwan, to the annoyance of China.

Her comments played well to her Armenian audience, especially compared with the reaction of Putin who has usually been viewed as a protector of Armenian sovereignt­y. He was photo- graphed last week smiling and shaking hands with Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, at the Shanghai Co-operation Organisati­on summit in Uzbekistan.

Azerbaijan has described Ms Pelosi’s visit to Armenia as “unacceptab­le”.

“This is a serious blow to the efforts to normalise relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the Azerbaijan­i foreign ministry said.

The Russian army’s failures in Ukraine have made formerly subservien­t allies across the former Soviet Union question their alliance with Russia.

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