“It is not only about the results of the latest conflict, it is also about the fact that the Armenian leadership has essentially recognized Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).
“And in the Prague declaration, the sides simply put it on paper.”
According to Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev now says directly that the question of Karabakh’s status is no longer an issue, that it has been resolved.
“And the Armenian leadership has publicly announced this, counting the entire territory before 1991 within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic and giving a figure that includes the territory of Karabakh itself. This has happened. It is not our decision, it is the decision of Armenia’s current leadership,” the Russian president stated.
He also explained how Azerbaijan’s position on Russia’s role in the region now sounds. “And if that is the case, they say to us, then now you should solve all issues with us on a bilateral basis, if you want to do something about Karabakh. Well, what can we say? There is nothing to say. If Armenia itself has recognized that Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan, what do we have to say?” Putin emphasized.
At the same time, the Russian leader noted that such a situation raises questions about the humanitarian component and the mandate of Russian peacekeepers to remain in the region.
“The mandate is still valid. And the humanitarian issues of preventing some kind of ethnic cleansing there, of course, have not gone away. I fully agree with that. I hope that the Azerbaijani leadership, as they have told us and continue to tell us, is not interested in any ethnic cleansing. And, on the contrary, they are interested in this process being carried out gently,” the Russian leader pointed out.
Putin noted that Moscow has laid out its plan for resolving the Karabakh conflict. He recalled that Armenia “controlled seven districts, which it took under its control after the well-known Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.”
“We offered to mediate an agreement with Azerbaijan in such a way that two districts – Kelbajar and Lachin – would actually remain under the jurisdiction of Armenia. And the whole of Karabakh. But the Armenian leadership did not agree to this, although we tried to convince those in charge of the country for a decade. For ten to fifteen years,” the Russian president recalled.
According to him, various options were discussed, “but in the end it all boiled down to this.”
“To our question, ‘What are you going to do?’ we were told: ‘We will fight.’ Well, okay,” Putin said, describing his dialogues with the Armenian leadership. “In the end, everything led to the situation that has developed today,” he added.
Responding to remarks that Moscow and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have allegedly failed to help Yerevan while a humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Karabakh, Putin said, “If Armenia has recognized that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, that’s it.”
“What is there to talk about? This is what the whole problem is all about. The status of Karabakh has been determined by Armenia itself. That is the whole problem,” he stressed.