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Putin, Pashinian Discuss Armenian-Azeri Border Crisis


Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at the Kremlin in Moscow, April 7, 2021

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin late on Thursday to discuss mounting tensions on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan.

Pashinian’s office said he briefed Putin on the situation at volatile sections of the border, again accusing Azerbaijani troops of advancing several kilometers into in Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province earlier this week.

A statement by the office said Putin “found further escalation unacceptable” and expressed hope that the border standoff will be resolved soon. It added that he backed Armenian demands for the immediate withdrawal of the Azerbaijani forces.

The Kremlin did not confirm this in its readout of the late-night phone call.

It said Putin stressed the need for “strict compliance” with all terms of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Nagorno-Karabakh last November. He also assured Pashinian that Moscow will continue its “active mediation efforts.”

The phone conversation came hours after the Armenian government decided to ask the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to take action against what it regards as Azerbaijani incursions into Armenia’s internationally recognized territory.

Pashinian informed Putin that it wants the CSTO to invoke Article 2 of its founding treaty which commits the Russian-led military bloc to discussing a collective response to grave security threats facing its member states.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the Armenian premier did not ask for Russian military aid during the phone call.

Russia deployed soldiers and border guards in Syunik during and after the Karabakh war to help the Armenian military defend the region against possible Azerbaijani attacks. Representatives of Russian troops stationed there are reportedly involved in ongoing crisis talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani military officials.

Armenia - General Alexander Dvornikov (C), commander of Russia's Southern Military District, meets with Armenian Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian, Yerevan, May 14, 2021.
Armenia - General Alexander Dvornikov (C), commander of Russia's Southern Military District, meets with Armenian Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian, Yerevan, May 14, 2021.

Most of those troops are part of the Russian military base headquartered in the Armenian city of Gyumri. The base is in turn subordinate to Russia’s Southern Military District.

The district commander, General Alexander Dvornikov, visited Armenia on Friday, meeting with Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian. The Armenian Defense Ministry said they discussed the situation in Syunik and ways of ending the continuing standoff between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.

Harutiunian also spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in what was their second phone conversation in as many days. A ministry statement said he briefed Shoigu on the Armenian military’s actions taken in the contested border areas. Both the areas and Azerbaijani military personnel deployed there are under close Armenian surveillance, said Harutiunian.

The secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, and his Armenian opposite number, Armen Grigorian, also discussed the border standoff by phone. According to Grigorian’s office, Patrushev said “the Russian side is working intensively at all levels to quickly resolve the problem.”

Baku says its troops did not cross into Armenia and simply took up positions on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier which were not accessible in winter months.

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