MOSCOW (RFE/RL) — Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot end their simmering border disputes without Russian mediation and mutual concessions, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin commented on the aftermath of last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh and Russian efforts to bolster a shaky peace in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone during an annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club on Thursday, October 22.
“The main thing now is to finally resolve the situation on the [Armenian-Azerbaijani] border, and it’s impossible to do anything here without Russian participation,” he said. ”We probably do not need anyone except Russia and the two sides. Why? … Because the Russian army’s General Staff has maps showing the borders that existed between Soviet republics in Soviet times. “
Tensions have run high in recent months at several sections of the long border where Azerbaijani forces reportedly advanced a few kilometers into Armenian territory in mid-May. Armenia has repeatedly demanded their unconditional withdrawal. Azerbaijan maintains that its troops took up new positions on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier.
Moscow proposed later in May that Yerevan and Baku set up a commission on border delimitation and demarcation. It offered to act as a mediator in such talks.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated at the time that the talks are conditional on an Azerbaijani withdrawal from Armenia “sovereign territory.” But he indicated in August that his government is ready to negotiate without any preconditions.