Putin says that, if Armenia had not reached an agreement with Azerbaijan, the fall of Karabakh was “a matter of hours”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied during an interview that Turkey violated international law by supporting Azerbaijan during the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, recalling that this region continues to be internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory, while adding that if an agreement had not been achieved, Armenia would have lost Karabakh “in a matter of hours”.
During an interview with a Russian network on Tuesday, Putin underlined that Azerbaijan was claiming its own territory in the conflict in Karabakh, and that it was within its right to choose any adviser, including Turkey. “You can qualify Turkey’s actions in the Karabakh conflict as you like, but (Turkey) cannot be accused of any violation of international law,” he insisted.
In this regard, the Russian president recalled that no country, not even Armenia itself, had ever come to recognise the independence of Artsakh, the puppet state of Armenia founded on the territories seized by Armenia from Azerbaijan in the war of the 1990s.
Furthermore, Putin said that since according to international law Karabakh has always been an integral part of Azerbaijan, the CSTO (a kind of “NATO” made up of Russia and some former Soviet republics, including Armenia) could not intervene in the conflict, since no one has attacked Armenia.
Putin: “The fall of Karabakh was a matter of hours”
Speaking more in depth about Turkey, the Russian president acknowledged that Moscow and Ankara often have different positions on certain issues, but that they have still managed to reach agreements through diplomatic channels.
He also spoke about France and the United States – co-chairs together with Russia of the so-called Minsk Group of the OSCE – explaining that their intervention in the solution to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was impossible because the fall of Karabakh was a matter of hours when the agreement was negotiated, and it was an urgent matter that did not leave time for further consultations with other members.
Referring to Russia’s efforts to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict that would curb hostilities between the two countries, Putin said that in October he managed to convince Aliyev for a ceasefire in Karabakh in exchange for the Azeri refugees expelled in the 1990s to return to Shusha, but that Armenia – which by then ruled out a diplomatic solution – rejected this proposal, too.
However, Putin wanted to come to the defence of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, against whom there are daily protests in the streets of Yerevan calling for his resignation since he signed the agreement. The Russian president insisted that what Armenia should do now is seek stability, and that in no case Pashinyan is a “traitor”, as the opposition claims. On the possibility that a future Armenian government will back down from the agreement with Azerbaijan, Putin stressed that doing so would be a suicide for Armenia.
Turkey approves deployment of troops in Karabakh
Meanwhile, the Turkish parliament yesterday approved a government proposal to deploy Turkish troops in Azerbaijan as part of a control mission in the region. The motion, valid for one year, was voted in favor by all parties in the chamber with the exception of the Kurdish nationalists of the HDP.
Under this parliamentary authorisation, Turkish soldiers will be sent to Azerbaijan to, in collaboration with the Russian troops sent to Karabakh, to monitor and report on the observance of the ceasefire and the agreement signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which involves the withdrawal of Armenian forces from most of the territory with the exception of some regions of historical Karabakh around the capital, Stepanakert.
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He is the “old man” of the team, as we like to call him, although he still has a long way to go. A tireless traveller, he has travelled halfway around the world… and pretends to visit the other half!! A political science graduate, he is particularly passionate about the Middle East, the Caucasus and Greece.