Putin insisted that Moscow is not pressuring Yerevan to reject this “variant” of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaties currently discussed by the conflicting parties.
“As far as I understand, the so-called Washington variant envisages recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh as a whole,” he told an annual meeting of Russia’s Valdai Discussion Club. “If Armenia thinks so, well, no problem. We will support any choice of the Armenian people.”
“If the Armenian people and leadership believe that Karabakh has its own specificities and these specificities must be taken into account, defined in a future peace treaty, this is also possible,” he said.
Putin seemed to allude to an alternative peace accord reportedly proposed by Moscow. This document is said to refer to Karabakh’s unresolved status and call for a future agreement on it.
In their peace talks mediated by the United States and the European Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been discussing a bilateral treaty that would commit them to recognizing each other’s territorial integrity. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has said that the treaty must make no references to Karabakh.
Armenian opposition leaders say that Yerevan would thereby recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh. One of them claimed on Tuesday that Pashinian is planning to sign a corresponding agreement drafted by the U.S. Alen Simonian, the Armenian parliament speaker close to Pashinian, responded by insisting that “no document is on the table” at the moment.
The U.S. and the EU intensified their peace efforts following last month’s deadly fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Russia has been very critical of those efforts, saying that the West is using the Karabakh conflict in the standoff over Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry charged on Monday that the Western powers are trying to “squeeze Russia out of the Transcaucasus,” rather than broker a “balanced” solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.
The U.S. State Department dismissed the claim. Some of Pashinian’s political allies likewise scoffed at the Russian criticism in a further sign of mounting tensions between Moscow and Yerevan.
Armenian leaders have rebuked Russia and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for not providing military aid to Armenia during the September 13-14 border clashes. A newspaper controlled by Pashinian’s family claimed earlier this month that Moscow is trying to annex Armenia or make it part of the Russia-Belarus union by encouraging Azerbaijani military aggression against it.