Putin also admits that Russia and Turkey do not agree on Karabakh conflict settlement
“Unfortunately, the fact is that violent crimes were committed against the Armenian people in Sumgait, and later in Nagorno-Karabakh. We must take all this into account,” President Vladimir Putin of Russia said when discussing the current military attacks on Artsakh on Thursday. He also emphasized that conflict “started not as an interstate conflict or a struggle for territories, but as an ethnic confrontation.”
Putin, who was speaking at a forum at the Valdai Discussion Club, said the more than any country, Russia is interested in a resolution to the Karabakh conflict, because, he said, the conflict was unfolding “in front of our eyes.”
The Russian leader said that for years Russia had made offers for resolving the conflict in the aims of securing long-term stability.
“But believe me, it has been a tense time with varying positions and approaches. At times it seemed that we were very close to reaching a solution. Unfortunately, it did not happen and today we have a conflict with its worst manifestation. The tragedy is that people are dying,’’ said Putin.
“We have sought and proposed mutual concessions for years. Unfortunately, we failed to find a solution, and this led to today’s tragedy. I hope everything ends, the battles end. I agree that the first thing to do is to cease fire. We agreed on this in Moscow, but unfortunately, the situation didn’t stay the same. We will aspire for this,” he said, adding that Russia, along with the other Minsk Group co-chairing countries, the United States and France want the situation normalized.
“I would very much like a compromise to be reached. You know that I am in close contact with both President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. We speak with them a number of times during a day, a number of times in a day, our foreign ministers, defense ministers, heads of special services are in constant touch. You know that the foreign ministers of the two countries were in Moscow recently, they will meet in Washington on October 23. I hope our American partners will act in line with us and will contribute to the settlement,’’ said Putin.
At the same time, Putin added, “the situation where a significant part of the territory of Azerbaijan has been lost cannot continue forever.” He said Armenia and Azerbaijan are “equal partners” to Russia.
Putin also admitted that Russia and Turkey disagree on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and the two countries must find a compromise solution.
“[Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan may seem tough but he is a flexible politician and a reliable partner for Russia,” he added.
However, Putin was questioned by the discussion moderator about Erdogan advancing a policy of expanding his zone of influence to the borders of the former Ottoman Empire.
“I don’t know what President Erdogan is planning and how he treats Ottoman heritage,” Putin said, saying that the question should be posed to the Turkish leader.
Putin was also prodded about disagreements he has with Erdogan, specifically on the issue of Crimea.
“In regard to Turkey’s decision not to recognize Crimea as a Russian territory, well, we have our differences, just like on the situation in the South Caucus. Our views are often different … It’s his [Erdogan] consistent position that he doesn’t recognize Crimea, he doesn’t recognize Nagorno-Karabakh. Well, we need to persistently work with everyone and remain patient, which we do, and prove everyone that our position is right and that we will insist on it, while searching for a compromise where our views are different,” Putin said.
The Russian president also said that Moscow believes that close to 5,000 people have been killed in the latest fighting. He said, “There are a lot of casualties from both sides, more than 2,000 from each side.”