Armenia supports Russian plan to maintain status quo in Artsakh

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan meet in Sochi (Kremlin, October 31)

Armenia’s approach to negotiations with Azerbaijan is fully in line with Russian proposals, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told lawmakers on Wednesday two days after his trilateral meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.

“There is a Russian concept, and there is a non-Russian concept,” Pashinyan said. “There is an attempt to create an impression that steps taken by the Armenian government are in conflict with the Russian concept. That is not true.”

The day after the trilateral summit, Russia’s ambassador to Armenia Sergey Kopyrkin told reporters that the issue of determining the status of Artsakh “should be left to the next generations, when the conditions for a solution to the problem acceptable and fair to all are in place.” 

Pashinyan said that the Armenian government’s policy “100-percent corresponds” with the view that the status quo in Artsakh should be maintained for the time being. During the Sochi meeting, he tried to include this “Russian concept” in the trilateral statement yet backed off at Russia’s urging “in order to not make the situation deadlocked.” 

Pashinyan, Aliyev and Putin released a joint statement after the summit, their first trilateral meeting since November 2021. The leaders “agreed to refrain from the use of force or the threat of its use” and “to discuss and resolve all problematic issues solely on the basis of mutual recognition of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders.” They also “stressed the importance of active preparation for the conclusion of a peace treaty” between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The statement made no reference to the Artsakh conflict. 

While Putin called the meeting “useful,” he said that some previously agreed-on texts had to be removed from the final statement. 

“I must say frankly that not everything was agreed upon,” Putin told reporters after the meeting. “Some things had to be removed from the text previously worked out at the level of specialists.”

In addition to trying to include an agreement to postpone a decision on the status of Artsakh in the trilateral statement, Pashinyan also proposed extending the Russian peacekeeping mission in Artsakh by 15 to 20 years, which Azerbaijan rejected. “The Karabakh conflict is already history,” Aliyev told reporters before the meeting. “It was resolved two years ago, so there is practically nothing to discuss in this context.”

Under the trilateral ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia, around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers were sent to Artsakh following the end of the 44-day war in 2020. The mission is set to expire in 2025.

On the eve of the Sochi summit, the Artsakh parliament requested that Russia “introduce additional political and military mechanisms” to ensure its security in a unanimous statement adopted during an extraordinary session.

“Taking into account Russia’s historical role in ensuring peace and stability in our region and, in particular, President Vladimir Putin’s direct and active participation in halting the 44-day war imposed on us in 2020 by aggressor-Azerbaijan, we appeal to the Russian Federation and ask to continue its commitment to ensure the security of the people of Artsakh,” the lengthy statement reads. “To strengthen it, we propose to introduce additional political and military mechanisms, taking into account the real existential dangers threatening the Armenians of Artsakh.”

The extraordinary session was broadcast live during a massive protest in central Stepanakert, the largest since the 1988 Artsakh liberation movement. An estimated 40,000 people gathered to express fears regarding the future of Artsakh and to reject any peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan that would place Artsakh under Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction. 

“Artsakh has never been and will never be part of independent Azerbaijan,” the parliamentary statement reads, warning that Azerbaijani control over Artsakh would lead to genocide against its Armenian population. “This very idea should be the basis for the settlement of the Azerbaijan-Artsakh conflict.”

The statement also warned authorities in Armenia that they do not have the right to “accept any document questioning the existence of the sovereign Republic of Artsakh.” 

Amid the ongoing diplomatic row between Russia and the West in the South Caucasus, Russian authorities have suggested that western proposals would be detrimental to the Armenian population of Artsakh. Putin said on October 27 that the West wants to place Artsakh under Azerbaijan’s control.

“The so-called Washington treaty, as far as I understand, provides for the recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh as a whole,” Putin said. “If Armenia thinks so, no problem. We will support any choice of the Armenian people.”

“If the Armenian people and leadership believe that Karabakh has its own specificities and these specificities must be taken into account, defined in a future peace treaty, this is also possible,” Putin continued. “But, of course, we need to negotiate with Azerbaijan.”

Pashinyan responded in a Russian-language tweet that Armenia had accepted the “basic principles and parameters presented by Russia” in early September regarding Armenia-Azerbaijan relations and was “ready to affirm this in Sochi.” 

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price called Putin’s claim “disinformation.” 

“When we engage with Armenia and Azerbaijan, we are doing so with one purpose in mind and one purpose only, and that is to put an end to the violence and to put these countries on the path to a lasting and comprehensive peace,” Price said during a press briefing on October 28. He did not comment on whether or not Washington has drafted a peace proposal. 

Olesya Vartanyan, Senior South Caucasus analyst at the International Crisis Group, said that western diplomats have pushed for different options that would maintain the status quo in Artsakh, despite Russian claims to the contrary. She said that both Russian and western officials are aware that a breakdown in negotiations could lead to a new war. 

“We’ll be handcuffed when it happens,” she quoted one Russian expert as stating, due to “Russia being stuck in Ukraine and its continued desire to sustain good relations with Azerbaijan.” 

“Will Putin succeed? It is difficult to see why Baku would agree to concede when it has an upper hand militarily and diplomatically. But ‘no one knows what Putin has in his ‘papochka’ (file),’ one Russian expert told me recently with an offer to keep some space for surprises,” Vartanyan said.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.
Lillian Avedian


Master's candidate in journalism and Near Eastern studies at NYU | Words in @armenianweekly, @DAWN_Journal, @girls_key and @LAReviewofBooks
RT @ANCA_DC: When NY @RepGraceMeng heard 2 of her constituents were caught behind Azerbaijan's #ArtsakhBlockade, she took action - working… - 1 month ago
Lillian Avedian

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  1. Hi Aline Dedeyan from BGeneva UN – azerbaojano-Armenian diplomatic encounters pf Azerbaijan and Armenia. an ongoing show with unreliable actors – AzerbaijanTzrkey. Putine held in custody by the latter. While carrying out a mind-bogging war against Russia. He is not only backed but Stuck in thre middle of the stage while Turkish/Azerbaijani couple – even if still underground – Have a unique common objectiver. Destroy Artsakh, capture NK territories despite the Washington treaty and others – neutralize the previos Armenian genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire tp replace independent Artsakh and parts of RdA by a powerful authoritarian, lies-ridden Muslim Republic. Putin as a middleman zapping around with contradictory and incongruent statements. Help Armenia not to fall into this trap.

  2. Any negotiation with Azerbayjan is meaningless in the absence of a strong Armenian military.We should buy thousands of those “one way” Iranian drones that Russia is using in Ukraine and demand more advanced armaments from Russia for use by the Armenian forces from the Russian military base in Armenia.

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