Russia summoned Armenia’s ambassador, an action taken in the midst of the Kremlin’s warnings against cooperation with the US and amidst escalating tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh.

Russia on Friday summoned the ambassador of Armenia over “unfriendly steps” as Yerevan announced drills with the US military and after its increasing criticism of Moscow’s role in the Nagorno-Karabakh standoff.

The move came as the Kremlin warned against drills with the US and as tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated over Karabakh.

Yerevan, a traditional Russian ally, has increasingly criticized Moscow’s peacekeeping mission there.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that “the Armenian leadership had in recent days taken a series of unfriendly steps”.

These included “US military drills on Armenian territory”, a trip to Kyiv by the Armenian Prime Minister’s wife, and Yerevan’s move to join the International Criminal Court, it added.

Moscow’s foreign ministry said the Armenian envoy was given a “tough presentation.”

Despite the summoning, the foreign ministry stressed that Russia and Armenia “remain allies and all agreements on developing the strengthening of the partnership will be fulfilled.”

Russia deployed peacekeepers to Karabakh as part of a Moscow-brokered deal to end a 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Many of Russia’s traditional allies in the ex-Soviet space have questioned Moscow’s role after its full-scale Ukraine offensive.

Katrine Dige Houmøller, with AFP