Armenian Governments Rejected Moscow's Proposal to Keep Lachin, Kelbajar, Return Other Territories, Says Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a speech at Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, claimed that successive Armenian governments rejected his proposal to settle the Karabakh conflict by which Armenians would maintain control of the Kelbajar and Lachin regions in exchange for returning the other territories to Azerbaijan.
"We proposed to reach an agreement with Azerbaijan so that the two regions, Kelbajar and Lachin, and all of Nagorno Karabakh, would actually remain under the jurisdiction of Armenia. But the Armenian leadership did not agree, although we tried to convince them for ten to fifteen years," Putin said.
The Russian president said Armenian authorities told him they would fight to maintain control of Karabakh and the surrounding territories.
Responding to claims that Moscow and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) hasn’t come to the aid of Armenia and that there is a humanitarian disaster in Nagorno-Karabakh, Putin said: "If Armenia has accepted that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, then that's it. What is all this talk about? This is the main component of the whole problem. The status of Karabakh was decided by Armenia itself. That is the whole problem.”
Putin said that since Armenia has recognized that Nagorno Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, Baku has run with this and says that the status of Karabakh has been resolved.
“The Armenian leadership announced it publicly, counting the entire territory of the Azerbaijani SSR until 1991 and stating the number, which includes the territory of Karabakh itself. It happened. It is not our decision, it is the decision of today's Armenian leadership," Putin emphasized.
Referring to the issue of ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Karabakh, Putin added that the issue has not been resolved.
"The mandate of the Russian peacekeepers is still valid. And the issues of a humanitarian nature, not allowing any ethnic cleansing there, of course, have not disappeared. I totally agree with that. I hope the Azerbaijani leadership, as we were told and are still being told, is not interested in any ethnic cleansing. Moreover, on the contrary, it is in its interest that this process will take place "gently", the Russian leader noted, without elaborating on what he means by "gentle".