“We agreed within the framework of the trilateral statement [issued by the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan on November 10] to stop hostilities,” Putin told a marathon news conference held outside Moscow. “And, what is very important, we agreed that the parties will stop at the positions where they were when our trilateral statement was signed.”
“Everybody must stop there,” he added, answering a question about whether Armenian forces should also withdraw from Karabakh in addition to surrounding districts recaptured by or handed over to Azerbaijan.
Some officials and commentators in Baku claimed earlier this week that the ceasefire agreement requires Armenian forces to pull out of Karabakh as well. The Armenian Foreign Ministry dismissed those claims.
The Armenian side accused Baku of violating the ceasefire agreement after Azerbaijani forces captured at the weekend the last two Armenian-controlled villages in Karabakh’s Hadrut district which was occupied by them during the six-week war. Russian peacekeepers intervened to stop further fighting in the area.
Putin expressed hope that there will be no more truce violations in the conflict zone and that the parties will resume peace talks mediated by the Russian, French and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
The truce accord says nothing about Karabakh’s future status. Putin reiterated that it must be determined in the future.
“The status of Karabakh itself must remain unchanged. That is, the status quo must be fixed along with the mandatory creation of communication possibilities between Armenia and Karabakh,” he said.
Putin noted that Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan “from the international legal standpoint.” “But the situation is much more complex than the normative postulates … The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh had taken up arms to protect their life and dignity,” he stressed.