Nagorno-Karabakh is an inseparable part of Azerbaijan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday.
According to Daily Sabah, Putin told Rossiya 1 TV, the fact that Armenia has not recognized the sovereignty of occupied Nagorno-Karabakh has proven that the area is an inseparable part of Azerbaijani territory.
The Russian president noted that Armenia's and the neighbors' refusal to recognize the occupied territory and international law have all supported Azerbaijani legitimacy over the area.
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russian-brokered cease-fire on Nov. 9 after six weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh. Under the agreement, Azerbaijan will regain control of three districts that have been ruled by the Armenian forces since the 1990s.
Around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh under the terms of the deal. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Saturday they had secured the return of 7,000 refugees, who were displaced during the recent fighting.
Referring to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), President Putin said the pact proposed mutual assistance in case of an attack on the territory of a member state, but no attack has been made on Armenian land by Azerbaijan, which meant that Russia did not have the prerogative to interfere.
Putin also noted that Moscow has fulfilled its pledges as part of the military-technical assistance cooperation framework with Yerevan. "I can assure you that Yerevan did not feel abandoned and Russia has done everything to make sure this did not happen," he added.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian called Saturday for greater military cooperation with Russia, a day after Azerbaijani troops began moving into the disputed territory previously held by Armenian separatist forces.
With the Minsk Group failing to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Turkey and Russia had to take the initiative, said Eşref Yalınkılıçlı, a Moscow-based Eurasia analyst. Although Russia initially seemed hesitant to support Turkey's involvement in the peace process, Azerbaijan's advocacy for the partnership seemed to solve that problem, Yalınkılıçlı added.
Turkey and Russia November 11 signed an agreement for establishing a joint center to monitor the cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh. Still, since then there has been speculation about the nature of the deal. Some claim that Russia is, in fact, still not in favor of sharing peacekeeping responsibility with Turkey.
Mehmet Oğuzhan Tulun, an analyst at the Ankara-based Eurasian Studies Center (AVIM), said that although the two countries' historical conflicts in the region make it reasonable for Russia to be uneasy about Turkey's presence in the southern Caucasus, the latest developments seem to indicate that Russia values Turkey's role in the peacekeeping process.
"The latest statements from the Russian authorities and the two countries' agreement on forming a peace protection center signals that Russia has acknowledged the fact that Turkey's presence in the region is critical for the peace's establishment," Tulun said.
"Media outlets of the Minsk countries that were excluded from the peace process, namely the U.S. and France, aim to create an atmosphere as if Turkey and Russia are confronting each other over Nagorno-Karabakh. However, despite these types of provocations, just like the balance in Syria between Turkey and Russia, I expect a similar balance between the two in Nagorno-Karabakh as well," Tulun said.
The Turkish Parliament last week overwhelmingly approved the deployment of Turkish peacekeeping troops to Azerbaijan. The mandate will allow Turkish forces to be stationed at a security center for one year as part of an accord between Ankara and Moscow to monitor the implementation of the cease-fire.
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