MOSCOW – On November 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin held press-conference answering questions about the situation in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and the Azeri-Armenian negotiations. Putin provided a great insight into the diplomatic background of the war and the posture of the pro-Western government of Armenia, led by Soros-backed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The Russian president stated that the most important achievement was to stop the bloodshed.
“I have already said that according to official figures alone, over 4,000 people have died. I think that in reality the figures are higher. Tens of thousands are wounded and mutilated. Look, this is not a movie. This is a tragedy that has befallen real people, real families. Therefore, stopping the bloodshed is the main result.
However, to understand what is happening we will still have to go back into history, literally in a few words. I have to recall that it all started in the already remote year of 1988, when ethnic clashes took place in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgayit. Armenian civilians fell victim to these events, and later it spread to Nagorno-Karabakh.
And since the Soviet Union’s leaders did not react duly to these events… let me say it again: these are sensitive issues, and I do not want to side with anyone or decide who was right or wrong. It is no longer possible to determine this now, but it was necessary to put things in order and protect civilians, and this was not done. At that point, the Armenians themselves took up arms, and this protracted conflict, a conflict building for many years, broke out. Eventually, it led to a declaration of independence, sovereignty and self-reliance by Karabakh in 1991. The Bishkek agreements were signed in 1994 and this Bishkek memorandum stopped the hostilities at that time.
What happened as a result? Karabakh declared independence, as I have said, and another seven adjacent regions came under the control of the Armenians, that is, Armenia.
This is basically what we inherited from the past and this is the problem we had to resolve.
I believe the fact that hostilities have stopped and, importantly, the parties agreed to unblock the roads and to restore economic ties is critically important and creates a good basis for normalising relations for the long term,” Putin said.
Putin also revealed that the war could’ve been stopped weeks ago (in October, before the full collapse of the Armenian defense in the south of Artsakh and the fall of the key stronghold of Sushi), but Pashinyan was refusing to accept Russian peacekeepers in the region and allow displaced Azerbaijani people to return to the region, including Sushi.
“On October 19-20, I had a series of telephone conversations with both President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. And then the Azerbaijani armed forces regained control over an insignificant southern part of Karabakh. In general, I managed to convince President Aliyev that it is needed to stop hostilities, but a mandatory condition on his part was the return of refugees, including to the city of Shusha,” Putin said.
“But unexpectedly for me, the position of our Armenian partners was formulated in such a way that it was unacceptable for them, and Prime Minister Pashinyan told me directly that he sees this as a threat to the interests of Armenia and Karabakh.“
“Bearing in mind that the return of civilians was supposed, while maintaining control on the part of the Armenian side over this part of the territory of Karabakh, including Shusha, and bearing in mind the presence of our peacekeepers, about which we already agreed with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. The prime minister (of Armenia) then said: no, we cannot agree to this, we will struggle, we will fight,” Putin said.
“Another thing is whether it was right or wrong, this is another question. But here there can be no talk of any betrayal,” he added noting that it is unclear what kind of Armenian interests would be damaged by the Russian-backed peace in October 19-20.
As for the future status of Artsakh, Putin noted that it still should be determined by both sides.
“Yes, there is this problem, since Karabakh’s final status has not been settled. We have agreed to maintain the status quo. What happens next will be decided eventually by the future leaders and the future participants in this process. I think if proper conditions are created for normal life and relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, between people in everyday life, especially in the conflict zone, are restored, it will create an environment for determining Karabakh’s status.
With regard to recognising or not recognising Karabakh as an independent state, there may be different approaches, but this undoubtedly was a significant factor, including in the course of the bloody conflict that I hope has ended. Because the very fact of the non-recognition of Karabakh, including by Armenia, has left a deep imprint on the course of events and the way it is perceived.
To put it bluntly, after the former Georgian leaders’ undoubtedly criminal moves, I mean the attacks against our peacekeepers in South Ossetia, Russia recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. We recognised the expression of the will of the people living in Crimea to reunite with Russia as just, and we met the people halfway, we did so openly. Some people may like it, others may not like it, but we did it in the interests of the people who live there and in the interests of Russia, and we are not ashamed to speak about it openly.
This did not happen with Karabakh, and this, of course, has significantly influenced the developments there.“
In fact, as it was already noted by experts, Pashinyan and his government just betrayed the interests of the Armenian nation by sabotaging the Russian-proposed piece deal in October because it would inevitably lead to the further increase of Russian influence in the region, which goes against the interests of Pashinyan’s Western puppet masters.
Thus, the Russia-brokered peace deal was delayed for weeks and the Armenians lost not only the south of Artsakh, but a large part of the territories of the original Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, including the key city of Shushi, which is a mere 6 km distance from Stepanakert, the capital city of Artsakh.