While describing Armenia as a “close friend and strategic ally” of Russia, Putin again stopped short of voicing support for Yerevan in the face of what it sees as Azerbaijani military aggression.
“Let me emphasize that any conflict situations between states close to us cause us serious concern,” he said after accepting the credentials of recently appointed ambassadors of 24 nations, including Armenia, at a ceremony held in the Kremlin.
“We call on everyone to show restraint, strictly adhere to the ceasefire, and firmly follow the tripartite statements of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia,” he added in a speech.
Putin portrayed the border clashes, which left at least 280 Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers dead, as a territorial dispute. He said Baku and Yerevan should resolve it by demarcating their long frontier “with advisory assistance from Russia.”
The Armenian government says that Baku resorted to military action in a bid to force it to fully accept the Azerbaijani terms of a bilateral peace treaty and open an “exterritorial corridor” connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave. The Azerbaijani side denies this and blames the Armenians for the dramatic escalation.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government appealed to Russia for urgent military intervention just hours after the outbreak of the fighting on the night from September 12-13. It asked Moscow to “put into action” relevant articles of a Russian-Armenian treaty on mutual defense.
The apparent lack of such assistance has prompted criticism from Armenian leaders in recent days. They have been even more critical of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Putin and the presidents of other CSTO member states discussed a separate Armenian request for aid at an emergency video summit chaired by Pashinian late on September 13. They refrained from openly siding with Yerevan and decided instead to send a fact-finding mission to Armenia.
Putin pointed on Tuesday to the dispatch of the mission. “I note that measures are being taken through this organization [CSTO] in connection with the aggravation of the situation in the Armenian-Azerbaijani border area,” he said.