The Russian Defense Ministry quoted Shoigu as saying during his meeting with Papikian that “we have things to discuss, there are traditional issues related to our military-technical and military cooperation.”
“And, of course, it is issues related to the activities of our peacekeeping contingent, which performs tasks in Nagorno-Karabakh. We continue to believe just as you do that the main stabilizing factor is the ceasefire along the entire line of contact,” the Russian defense minister said.
Shoigu also reportedly thanked his Armenian counterpart for attending the opening of the International Army Games and the Army-2022 International Military-Technical Forum, as well as for participating in the Moscow Conference on International Security.
Papikian, as quoted by Russia’s Defense Ministry, noted, for his part, “the high level of bilateral Armenian-Russian allied cooperation” that he said was evidenced by his second meeting with Shoigu since the beginning of this year.
“This meeting is very important for us. We highly appreciate the achieved level of Armenian-Russian cooperation, as well as the role of the Russian presence in the South Caucasus,” the Armenian defense minister said.
During an August 4 weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian criticized the Russian peacekeeping operation in Nagorno-Karabakh following the most serious fighting along the line of contact that left two Armenian and one Azerbaijani soldiers dead.
Pashinian urged Russia to do more to prevent further ceasefire violations, charging that Baku has been stepping up such violations despite the presence of Russian peacekeeping troops in the region.
The Armenian prime minister held a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin several days later. The readout of the call released by Pashinian’s office did not specifically mention the issue of peacekeepers as being discussed by the two leaders. It only said that “issues related to the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as ensuring security on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border were discussed.”
During a news briefing in Moscow on August 11, Ivan Nechayev, a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, rejected what he described as “separate criticism” of Russia’s peacekeeping operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, stressing that “Russian peacekeepers continue to be engaged in active work, taking necessary efforts for stabilization on the ground.”
Moscow has deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh since November 2020 after brokering a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan that put an end to a deadly six-week war over the region.
Russian servicemen, in particular, control a five-kilometer-wide strip of land known as the Lachin corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia that is to change its route in the weeks to come when Azerbaijan is expected to take control of several villages along the current road.