The Kremlin reported on Friday that Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian “noted with satisfaction” that the ceasefire regime in the Karabakh conflict zone is holding and that “the situation in the region remains by and large stable and calm.”
In a statement, it said both Aliyev and Pashinian praised Russian peacekeeping forces that were deployed in and around Karabakh after the ceasefire agreement entered into force on November 10.
“Also touched upon were issues relating to the unblocking of economic and transport links in the South Caucasus,” the statement said, adding that the three leaders praised a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani working group formed by them for that purpose in January.
The group co-headed by deputy prime ministers of the three states has held a series of meetings on practical modalities of opening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border for commercial and other traffic.
It was supposed to submit by March 1 a timetable of “measures envisaging the restoration and construction of new transport infrastructure facilities.” No such document has been made public so far.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said earlier on Friday that both Baku and Yerevan have taken a “constructive approach” to the work of the trilateral task force.
The truce agreement commits Yerevan to opening rail and road links between the Nakhichevan exclave and the rest of Azerbaijan that will presumably pass through Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province. Armenia should be able, for its part, to use Azerbaijani territory as a transit route for cargo shipments to and from Russia and Iran.
Zakharova declined to comment on Aliyev’s recent threats to force Yerevan to open a transport “corridor” between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. Aliyev also described Syunik as “historical Azerbaijani lands.”