The humanitarian crisis in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) is a result of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s decision to recognize the region as part of Azerbaijan, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Tuesday.
Echoing statements by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Putin said Yerevan is therefore wrong to criticize Moscow for not unblocking the Lachin corridor effectively shut down by Baku in December.
“The president of Azerbaijan is now telling me, ‘Well, you know that Armenia has admitted that Karabakh is ours, that the issue of Karabakh’s status is closed’ … What should we say? There is nothing we can say,” he told an annual economic forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok.
“If Armenia recognized that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan … then what are we talking about? This is the key component of the whole problem. The status of Karabakh was decided by Armenia itself,” added Putin.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, made the same point on August 30 in response to the Armenian criticism. She cited Pashinyan’s and Aliyev’s joint statements on mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity that were issued after their talks organized by the European Union in October 2022 and May 2023. The Armenian Foreign Ministry hit back at Zakharova in an extensive written response.
Tensions between the two longtime allies deepened further in the following days, with Pashinyan declaring that Armenia’s reliance on Russia for defense and security has proved a “strategic mistake.” Moscow condemned Pashinyan’s remarks. The Russian Foreign Ministry listed them among “a series of unfriendly steps” taken by Yerevan, in a note of protest handed to the Armenian ambassador on September 8.
Those steps include a joint U.S.-Armenian military exercise that began on Monday, a visit to Ukraine by Pashinyan’s wife, and Armenia’s plans to accept the jurisdiction of an international court that issued an arrest warrant for Putin in February. Pashinyan insisted in televised remarks aired late on Monday that they are not directed at Moscow.
Putin on Tuesday also said that there are “humanitarian issues” in Karabakh require urgent solutions. He expressed hope in that regard that Baku is not planning any “ethnic cleansing” in the Armenian-populated territory where Russia deployed about 2,000 peacekeeping troops following the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war. The Armenian government maintains that the Azerbaijani blockade is aimed at forcing the Karabakh Armenians to flee their homeland.