“Armenia and the Armenian people have endured a really difficult period in their history,” Putin said during a virtual summit of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). “The leadership of Armenia, the prime minister had to take very hard but necessary, for the Armenian people, decisions.
“I must say that those decisions were painful but, I repeat, necessary, and their adoption required the Armenian prime minister’s personal courage. This is obvious, and each of us participating in this meeting understands the extent of responsibility needed for making such decisions. He [Pashinian] took that responsibility.”
“And our task now is to support both the prime minister and his team in order to establish a peaceful life, ensure the implementation of all adopted decisions and help people [in the Karabakh conflict zone] who have found themselves in a difficult situation,” added Putin.
The remarks came amid continuing calls for Pashinian’s resignation voiced by Armenian opposition leaders and a growing number of public figures. They hold him responsible for sweeping territorial gains made by Azerbaijan during the war and locked in by the ceasefire agreement.
The announcement of the agreement on November 10 provoked a series of anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan. Opposition groups plan to resume them on Saturday.
Pashinian’s critics were further infuriated by Putin’s November 16 assertion that the Armenian side would have suffered fewer territorial losses and, in particular, retained control of the strategic Karabakh town of Shushi (Shusha) had Pashinian agreed to Azerbaijan’s terms of a ceasefire on October 20.
Pashinian has rejected the opposition demands for his resignation and snap parliamentary elections. He has pledged to “restore stability” in Armenia in the months ahead.
Addressing the CSTO summit from Yerevan, Pashinian again thanked Putin for helping to stop the war with Azerbaijan and deploying Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh. He also complained about the slow pace of the exchange of Armenian and Azerbaijani prisoners of war and mutual handover of bodies of soldiers killed in action.