The Russian president said on Wednesday that the Armenia-Azerbaijan military conflict was not taking place in the Armenian lands.
“To our great regret, the hostilities continue to this day, and they are not being conducted on the territory of Armenia,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told in his interview to local Rossiya 24 channel.
“This is a tragedy. We are very worried, because Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Nagorno-Karabakh [Upper Karabakh] are all territories where people are not strangers to us,” he said.
Putin also underlined that about 2 million Azerbaijanis and more than 2 million Armenians currently live in Russia.
“Many Russian citizens maintain friendly and kinship relations with both republics. This is of course a great tragedy. People are dying. There are big losses on both sides,” he added.
Noting that he hopes the clashes will end soon, Putin said: “We call for a cease-fire as soon as possible.”
The Russian president also said that apparently, it seems “there is still a long way off the conflict being completely settled.”
He also recalled that Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, adding that Russia has “certain commitments” towards Armenia as part of the agreement.
Armenia is a member of a military alliance of six former Soviet states, including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Russia also has a military base in Armenia.
“As for Russia’s fulfillment of its treaty commitments under this agreement, we have always fulfilled and will continue to fulfill our obligations.”
Putin said he is in “constant working contact” with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
“The Armenian leadership does not have any questions about the quality of Russia’s fulfillment of its allied commitments,” he said.
The ongoing clashes began on Sept. 27, when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to casualties.
Upper Karabakh conflict
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
Some 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory, including the Upper Karabakh, has remained under illegal occupation by Armenia for roughly three decades.
The occupied Upper Karabakh region includes the towns of Shusha, Khankendi, Khojaly, Asgaran, Khojavand, Aghdara, and Hadrut.
The seven other occupied regions of Azerbaijan are the provinces surrounding the Upper Karabakh area, including Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Qubadli, and Zangilan.
Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.
Over 1 million Azerbaijanis became internally displaced persons, while 20,000 were martyred by Armenian forces and 50,000 wounded and became disabled, according to Azerbaijan’s official figures.
At least 4,000 Azerbaijanis went missing during the conflict and their fate remains unknown.
More than 2,000 Azerbaijanis were captured and taken hostage by Armenian forces.
The OSCE Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was reached in 1994.
Many world powers, including Russia, France, and the US, have urged an immediate cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku’s right to self-defense.
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