Putin believes that Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan from the standpoint of international law

17 December 2020

According to international law, the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday at the annual press conference, answering a question from TASS.

"From the international legal point of view, I also spoke about this, all these territories are an integral part of the Republic of Azerbaijan," Putin stressed. He noted that "Armenia itself did not recognize the independence of Nagorno - Karabakh," and, bearing in mind this circumstance, "Nagorno-Karabakh is also Azerbaijan from the point of view of international law."

Putin pointed out that this was Russia's position within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group's activities to resolve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. "This is how our position was built in the Minsk Group, where Russia, the United States and France are co-chairs. For many years, we have always assumed that Azerbaijan should return the 7 held areas around Nagorno-Karabakh, " the Russian president said.

Speaking about the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, Putin noted that now it should be unchanged, and the issue of its definition should be resolved in the future. "The status of Nagorno-Karabakh itself should remain unchanged, that is, it should be transferred to the future. Should be fixed the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh, but with the mandatory establishment of communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, which was supposed to create a so-called Lachin corridor - that is, a corridor linking Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh."

Referring to Turkey's position on the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh, Putin noted Ankara's statements of support for Baku in the issue of returning territories over which Azerbaijan lost control in the 1990s. "Turkey's position is based on the fact, and it is publicly stated, that Turkey defended, as they believe, the just cause of Azerbaijan, namely, the return of the territories that were occupied during the clashes in the 1990s," Putin said.

The causes of the conflict

Putin does not believe that the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has flared up again this year due to the intervention of some external forces.

"The situation got out of control, this tension lasted for many years," he said. "I don't think it was due to any outside interference. Many times there were friction, skirmishes and small skirmishes. This resulted in a conflict."

According to Putin, the situation that has developed around Nagorno-Karabakh is " much more complicated than just simple normative postulates, including international legal ones."

"The roots are in the ethnic conflict that began in Sumgait and then spread to Nagorno-Karabakh," he said. "Each side has its own truth here. The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh once took up arms in order to protect their lives and dignity. And the situation that has developed at the time of the escalation of the conflict this year has been created."

Baku and Yerevan have been contesting the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh since February 1988, when the region announced its secession from the Azerbaijan SSR. During the 1992-1994 armed conflict, Azerbaijan lost control over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding areas.

The cease-fire

The president said that the violation of the ceasefire regime in Nagorno-Karabakh, recorded after the entry into force of the joint statement signed on November 9 on the complete cessation of hostilities in the region, was isolated. Putin hopes that there will be no more such cases.

"The outbreak of violations of the ceasefire, it was only once. I hope that an isolated case will remain an isolated one, [that] all the contracting parties will still be able to sit down at the negotiating table, with our mediation, with the mediation of the Minsk Group [OSCE] - this is not important, the main thing is that the process begins and is positively completed, " he said on Thursday at the annual press conference.

The President pointed out that the trilateral statement provides "all grounds and all opportunities" for the negotiation process on the peaceful settlement of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. "It stated that after the truce is reached, the next stage should be the full normalization of relations in the region with the disclosure of economic and infrastructure potential. In particular, this applies to road and rail communication - this also applies to Nakhichevan [Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan], this also applies to communication between the south and north of Armenia," he stressed.

On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that the ceasefire was violated on December 11 in the Hadrut region for the first time since the end of hostilities and the beginning of the Russian peacekeeping operation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russian peacekeepers

Putin did not rule out the possibility of increasing the number of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh, but stressed that this requires the consent of both Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"As for increasing the number of our peacekeepers," he said, " this is possible, but only by agreement with all parties, including the Azerbaijani side. Because we initially discussed the number of our peacekeepers - this number is agreed."

At the same time, Putin noted that people " on the one hand, and on the other hand, adequately assess the situation, and this is a purely technical issue." "If everyone comes to the conclusion that this is necessary, we will do it, if not, then we will not do it," the president said. "But it's not just about the peacekeepers, it's also about the work of our services: the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the border service of the FSB of Russia," he added.

Russian peacekeepers are in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone in accordance with the agreements recorded on November 9 in the joint statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani Leader Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on a complete ceasefire in the region.

The basis of the peacekeeping contingent consists of units of the 15th separate motorized rifle brigade of the Central Military District. Russian observation posts are deployed along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The command of the peacekeeping operation is located in Stepanakert.

Saving lives

Putin said that the main result of the agreements on the cessation of hostilities in the conflict zone around Nagorno-Karabakh is the preservation of human lives.

"This agreement (joint statement on the complete cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan-ed. TASS) - about the cessation of hostilities-it is very important. I've already said that, too. Because it stops the bloodshed, people have stopped dying peacefully - this is an extremely important thing, this is generally fundamental. Everything else is secondary. Preserving people's lives and health is the most important task that we have solved, " Putin said on Thursday at the annual press conference, answering a question from TASS.

At the same time, the Russian leader stressed that it is time for international mediators to move from words to deeds and start providing assistance to the local population, not leaving it only to Russia. "We very much hope that the international mediators will finally move from words to deeds and start actually helping people who need help-first of all, refugees returning to Nagorno-Karabakh. That not only Russia will do this by sending humanitarian convoys there, but also international organizations will finally deploy: UNICEF, UNESCO, the Food Organization, and bilaterally those who want to support people in the conflict zone will respond," he said.


GSV "Russia - Islamic World"

Photo: Alexander Ryumin / TASS

Based on materials from TASS