Putin Discusses Nagorno-Karabakh With Armenian, Azerbaijani Leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the implementation of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the war in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region in separate phone calls with Azerbaijani President Ilham…

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the implementation of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the war in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region in separate phone calls with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, the Kremlin said on November 24.

The three also discussed humanitarian assistance for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and economic issues as well as the unblocking of transport communications in the region, the Kremlin added in a statement.

High-level Russian government delegations, which included two Russian deputy prime ministers as well as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, visited Yerevan and Baku at the weekend.

“They looked into Russian peacekeepers in the Nagorno-Karabakh region’s activity and into further steps to provide humanitarian assistance to the population,” the statement said.

The three leaders also “touched upon issues of economic interaction and unblocking of transport links in the region,” according to the statement. No further details were provided.

Almost 2,000 Russian troops moved into areas in and around Nagorno-Karabakh earlier this month as part of the November 9 Moscow-brokered truce that ended six weeks of heavy fighting in the 30-year-old conflict that is thought to have killed thousands.

The truce commits the conflicting parties to reopening their borders for trade, but it sets no time frame for that.

Putin touted the Russian mediation efforts when he addressed the newly appointed ambassadors of more than a dozen foreign states in Moscow on November 24.

The Russian leader reiterated that those efforts are “creating prerequisites for a long-term and full-fledged resolution” of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Putin also discussed Nagorno-Karabakh with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the phone on November 24, the Kremlin said.

“Vladimir Putin informed the Turkish leader about the activities of Russian peacekeepers [in Nagorno-Karabakh] who ensure the cease-fire and the securing of the [civilian] population,” it said in a statement.

“It was stressed that urgent humanitarian problems linked with the return of refugees, restoration of infrastructure, preservation of religious and cultural sites must be resolved without delay,” it said, adding that the call was initiated by the Turkish side.

Two of the most influential regional powers in the Caucasus, Russia and Turkey are said to be disagreeing over the possible role of Turkish peacekeepers as part of the cease-fire.

Russia has extensive relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan but provides security guarantees to the former, while Turkey is a staunch Azerbaijani ally with longtime animosities with Yerevan.

Meanwhile, the Russian news agency TASS reported that the last Armenian military units were leaving the Karvachar (which Azeris call Kalbacar) district, which is to be handed over to Azerbaijan on November 25 according to the truce agreement.

Karvachar, wedged between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, is slated for handover to Azerbaijani forces at 0600 Yerevan time on November 25.

The district of Kashatagh (which Azeris call Lachin), west of Nagorno-Karabakh, is scheduled for handover by December 1.

The district of Agdam was handed over on November 20.

With reporting by Reuters and TASS

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