Russia’s peacekeeping contingent will leave Nagorno-Karabakh after signing a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan, former Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan said.
“After the signing of the peace treaty it will be senseless to keep Russian troops there. Today it is already problematic, because now this army cannot and does not want to control the Lachin corridor”, Bagratyan said (quoted by News.am).
Russia sent a peacekeeping contingent to Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 after a short war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Late last year, Baku invaded the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers and blocked the Lachin corridor, which connects Karabakh with Armenia.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan criticized Russia for inaction, as Moscow had committed to ensure the security of the unrecognized republic.
“If for objective or subjective reasons Russia is unable to ensure stability in Nagorno-Karabakh, I believe it should initiate discussions in the UN Security Council to <…> send an additional, multinational peacekeeping contingent to Nagorno-Karabakh”, Pashinyan said. He also demanded “immediate answers” about the activities of Russian peacekeepers in the republic.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called such criticism “unacceptable”. “Without the Russian peacekeeping contingent, can anyone responsibly say, would it have been better? I think the answer is obvious”, official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova countered.
After blocking the Lachin corridor, Pashinyan said that Yerevan was ready to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan if the latter guaranteed the rights of Armenians on that territory. He urged to discuss the issue in the Baku-Stepanakert format.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev underlined that the Armenian population of Karabakh must make a choice: to accept Azerbaijani citizenship or find another place to live. Aliyev also demanded that the head of the unrecognized republic Araik Harutyunyan surrender to the authorities.
“The [Karabakh] parliament must be dissolved, the element who calls himself ‘president’ must surrender, all ministers, deputies and others must already leave their positions. Only then can there be an indulgence for them. Only in this case we can talk about any amnesty,” said the President of Azerbaijan.
At the moment Baku and Yerevan are working on a draft peace treaty, which can be signed in the near future.