Nagorno-Karabakh: Putin meets with Armenian and Azeri president to discuss ceasefire

Published June 21st, 2016 - 05:30 GMT
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan in Saint Petersburg on June 20, 2016. (AFP/File)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan in Saint Petersburg on June 20, 2016. (AFP/File)

Putin on Monday held separate meetings with Armenia's Serzh Sargsyan and Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, discussing efforts to help a fragile truce continue along the volatile front line of the contested region.

In early April, Azerbaijani and Armenian troops used artillery, tanks, and other armaments against each other on a scale not seen since a war in 1994.

According to reports, nearly 75 servicemen from both sides along with a number of civilians were killed in the latest skirmishes between the hostile neighbors.

A Russian-mediated truce went into effect later in April, but sporadic clashes have since continued.

Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Monday that the aim of talks between the Russian, Armenian and Azeri leaders was to make sure there was no resumption of military hostilities.

"Our position on Karabakh is well known, we want this issue to be resolved exclusively peacefully," the Armenian president told Putin during his meeting, adding that, "Unfortunately such conflicts cannot be resolved just through the desire of one side."

The Azeri president hit back, saying the "status quo is unacceptable" as he sat down with Putin. "In order to change the status quo, we need to end the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories," he said.

After the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the three leaders, in a joint statement, expressed readiness to normalize the situation along the line of contact and agreed to an increase in the number of monitors in the area from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The Karabakh region, which is located in the Azerbaijan Republic but is populated by Armenians, has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian militia and the Armenian troops since a three-year war which claimed over 30,000 lives and ended in 1994.

Last week, Azerbaijan announced five days of major military drills near the breakaway region, which included some 25,000 servicemen and 300 tanks.


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