The Russian Putin sees possibilities for a settlement between Azerbaijan and Armenia

MOSCOW, May 25 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that despite difficulties, he felt Azerbaijan and Armenia were moving toward a resolution to their decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Putin made his remarks during a televised Kremlin meeting with leaders of both nations. Russia has historically been the main power broker between the two countries on the southwestern edge of the former Soviet Union, which have fought two major wars over the past three decades.

“In my opinion, in general, despite difficulties and problems, and there are plenty of them, the situation is moving towards a settlement,” he said.

Next week, officials from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia would meet to ensure that “all outstanding issues are resolved,” he added.

Earlier, in a clear sign of the tensions between the two nations, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had argued for minutes in Russian in the presence of Putin.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated enclave in Azerbaijan, has been a source of conflict since the years leading up to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In 2020, Azerbaijan seized control of areas controlled by ethnic Armenians in and around the mountain enclave, and has since periodically restricted access to the only access road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

Baku last month placed a roadside checkpoint on the grounds that Armenia used the route to send weapons to Nagorno-Karabakh, something Yerevan denies.

Putin said the three sides have discussed communications and transportation in detail.

“There are still unresolved questions, but in my opinion, and we have discussed this with our Azerbaijani and our Armenian colleagues, they are of a purely technical nature,” he said.

Unresolved issues between the two sides include the rights and security of about 120,000 ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Despite their tantalizing exchange, both Pashinyan and Aliyev said progress has recently been made towards a settlement based on mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity.

Distracted by the war in Ukraine, Russia faces the challenge of maintaining its role as a mediator as the United States and the European Union have made their own efforts to bring the parties together.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was previously quoted by the RIA news agency as saying that the West was trying to meddle in the conflict and discredit Russia’s peace policy.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Tatiana Gomozova, Caleb Davis, Felix Light, David Ljunggren, and Ron Popeski, written by Mark Trevelyan and Andrew Osborn; Edited by Bill Berkrot, Andrew Heavens and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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