Through mediation efforts by Russia, five Armenian prisoners of war returned to Armenia Thursday, with the plane carrying them touching down at Yerevan’s Erebuni Airport.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan reported the news of their pending return in a Facebook post.
Armenian, meanwhile, returned one Azerbaijani captive.
‘’The Russian airplane transported 1 POW to Baku, 5 POWs returned to Armenia,’’ said the commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh Lieutenant-General Rustam Muradov, according to Tass.
Azerbaijan has been delaying the return of Armenian captives and POWs, with official Baku threatening to prosecute those still in captivity.
The issue was not resolved during a January meeting in Moscow, attended by Russian and Azerbaijani presidents Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev, as well as Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who signed an agreement to begin the process of opening the border to Azerbaijan, but failed to negotiate a comprehensive plan for the return of Armenian POWs.
Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova on Thursday touched on the POW issue, saying efforts to return all prisoners of war from both sides were underway.
According to her, as the Russian president and foreign minister have said, the optimal solution for this issue would be to employ the principle of “all for all.”