Vladimir Putin organizes a summit with Armenia and Azerbaijan
A month after clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis left 286 dead – the heaviest toll since hostilities resumed in 2020 – Russian President Vladimir Putin convened the warring parties for a summit in Sochi, southwestern Russia. These two former Soviet republics have been fighting for control of Nagorno-Karabakh since the 1990s, alternating between direct clashes and a war of position.
“In our overall opinion, it was a very useful meeting that created a very good atmosphere for possible future agreements,” confirmed by the Russian president at the end of the tripartite summit. “For its part, Russia will do everything to find a final and comprehensive settlement” he expressed his certainty about the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and added“The normalization of relations is in everyone’s interest”.
In the joint declaration adopted at the end of the summit, Baku and Yerevan committed themselves “do not use force”as well as’“Resolve all disputes only on the basis of recognition of mutual sovereignty and territorial integration”. They also emphasized “The importance of active preparation for the conclusion of a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to ensure sustainable and long-term peace in the region”.
The traditional role of judge
Stuck eight months into Moscow’s offensive against Ukraine, which has embarrassed its traditional partners, Mr. Putin wanted the summit to restore Russia’s traditional role as a dominant figure in the volatile Western-brokered region. efforts.
First, the Russian president spoke privately with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. “The most important thing is to ensure peace and create conditions for development”, Mr. Putin told Mr. Pashinyan. The latter, in turn, emphasized that his priorities are the removal of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh from the territories where Russian peacekeeping forces are located, as well as the release of prisoners of war.
The Russian president then received his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, who thanked him for his gratitude “prompt for the standardization process”.
More than 6,500 deaths in 2020
In the fall of 2020, the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which killed more than 6,500 people on both sides, ended with the military defeat of Armenia and a peace agreement sponsored by Moscow.
However, occasional clashes continued, whether in Nagorno-Karabakh or on the recognized border between the two countries, especially in September, despite the presence of Russian soldiers.
These Russian-sponsored talks coincide with a time when Western capitals are more actively involved in mediating the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Thus, the President of the Council of Europe, Charles Michel, and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, organized the talks between the MM. Pashinyan and Aliyev in Brussels in August.
Russia and the European Union, which have a weak attitude towards these initiatives in the region they consider their backyard, have sharply criticized their respective mediation efforts. Mr Macron accused Russia in particular of wanting it “destabilize” Vladimir Putin’s comments condemning the peace process “unacceptable”. “Russia has always sincerely tried to resolve conflicts, including problems related to Karabakh”Mr. Putin argued in mid-October.
Baku’s ally, Turkey, has also made mediation efforts, and recently its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met with MM. Aliyev and Pashinyan in Prague.
About 30,000 died in the 1990s
Ahead of the talks, Mr. Pashinyan said on Saturday that he was ready to extend the presence of 2,000 Russian peacekeepers for up to 20 years, hoping for an offer from Mr. Putin to that end.
The president of Azerbaijan has vowed to fill Karabakh with Azerbaijanis thanks to his military victory in 2020, while this region, inhabited mainly by Armenians, has been out of Baku’s control since the first war in the 1990s, which killed nearly 30,000 people. The period when the USSR collapsed.