Nagorno-Karabakh inseparable part of Azerbaijan, Putin says

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SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - MARCH 16: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his meeting with health workers at the Almazov Medical National Research Centre on March 16, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The 2018 Russian Presidential Elections will take place on March 18. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Nagorno-Karabakh is an inseparable part of Azerbaijan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday.

Speaking on Rossiya 1 TV, Putin said 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.

Referring to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), 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.

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russian-brokered cease-fire on Nov. 9 after six weeks of fighting over the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. Under the agreement, Azerbaijan will regain control of three districts that have been controlled by Armenian forces since the 1990s.

Around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed to 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.

The government of Pashinian has come under pressure to quit, with thousands of demonstrators demanding he go following the signing of the cease-fire.

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