Putin comments on Nagorno-Karabakh escalation
Russian peacekeeping forces are cooperating with all sides of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday. His remarks came shortly after Azerbaijan and officials in the breakaway region agreed a ceasefire.
Speaking during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Putin stressed that Russian “peacekeepers are working very actively with all parties involved in this conflict. They are doing everything to protect civilians.”
The Russian leader also expressed hope that the dialogue involving Moscow, Yerevan, Baku, and the authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh would result in de-escalation and a peaceful settlement of the crisis. Putin added that more than 2,000 civilians, including more than 1,000 children, are currently being accommodated at the main base used by Russian peacekeepers in the region.
The comments come after Azerbaijan launched what it described as a counter-terrorism operation in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, accusing Armenia of amassing troops there. Yerevan denied the allegations.
After a day of intense fighting, officials in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan announced that they had reached a ceasefire with Russian mediation. Under the terms of the agreement, the authorities of the disputed region pledged to lay down arms. Military equipment from the area will be withdrawn and scrapped, in a process coordinated by Russian peacekeepers, it added.
Nagorno-Karabakh has been the subject of bitter tensions since the last days of the Soviet era, when the predominantly ethnic Armenian region attempted to cede from Azerbaijan. The standoff escalated into a major war which ended in a 1994 ceasefire. However, Nagorno-Karabakh has been marred by sporadic fighting ever since, with the most notable flare-up coming in 2020 when Baku took control of a significant chunk of the region’s territory. A Russian-mediated ceasefire ended the hostilities.