(Photo Credit: AFP)
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan voiced his concerns to Russian President Vladamir Putin over the “problem” associated with Russian peacekeepers stationed at the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan remained relatively high for over three years since Baku launched an attack on the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The conflict claimed the lives of over 6,500 people on both sides, while Azerbaijan claims to have “crushed” the Armenian forces. In an attempt to alleviate tensions, Moscow deployed its peacekeeper units to the region.
During a phone conversation between Pashinyan and Putin on 13 March, the Armenian prime minister stressed that escalations within the Nagorno-Karabak region continue to occur in zones where Russian peacekeepers are present.
The peacekeepers reside in the area to ensure unhindered traffic and the facilitation of bilateral trade between the neighboring countries and Russia.
“Azerbaijan’s rhetoric is becoming more and more aggressive every day,” Pashinyan said, denouncing a blockade of the so-called Lachin corridor, which is Karabakh’s sole land link with Armenia.
He further added that recent disruptions from Baku along the Lachin corridor have been ongoing for several months, deeming these actions as a preparation for the “ethnic cleansing of Armenians.”
Over the course of 2022, Azerbaijan expanded its control of key strategic territories in the region. More than 200 Armenian troops and about 80 Azerbaijanis have been killed in the conflict.
This development comes weeks after Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov affirmed that Moscow’s peacekeepers are ready to organize peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
On 16 February, Pashinyan announced that the Armenia government finalized a draft peace agreement with Azerbaijan and delivered it to Baku and the OSCE Minsk Group member states.
“Armenia has completed work on a draft agreement on peace and relations with Azerbaijan, and our proposals were handed over to the Azerbaijani side. We also passed them to the countries of the OSCE Minsk Group,” Pashinyan said at a televised government meeting.