Putin, Pashinyan Discuss Opening Borders, Return of POWs

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (left) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 7
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (left) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 7

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (left) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 7

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday met with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Moscow, where the two leaders discussed what Putin called “normalizing the situation” in Karabakh. The Russian leader pressed for the opening of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, while Pashinyan emphasized the need for the immediate release of Armenian prisoners of war being held captive by Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan told Putin that the Russian leader’s “personal contributions” have gone a long way to stabilize the region, according to a readout of remarks by the leaders ahead of their closed door meeting provided by the prime minister’s press service.

“Allow me to note that there is a very sensitive issue yet to be solved… the issue of prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees,” Pashinyan said.

“As we have repeatedly discussed, according to the November 9 statement, all hostages, prisoners of war, and other detainees should be returned to their homeland, but, unfortunately, we still have detainees in Azerbaijan. I am happy that we have no discrepancies concerning this issue,” Pashinyan added.

“It is also crucial to discuss our vision of the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, because unfortunately the problem has not been resolved yet, and we need to talk about our vision of the future,” said Pashinyan.

Putin touted his plan to force Armenia and Azerbaijan to open their borders as outlined in the November 9 agreement, saying that the move will provide Armenia “more opportunities.”

“Of course, the possibility of restoring trade and economic ties as well as transport routes in the region, so that Armenia can enjoy more opportunities for growth is the most important matter. I believe this is crucial,” Putin said ahead of his private meeting with Pashinyan.

Other issues on the agenda of the meeting included Russian-Armenian military cooperation, what Putin called “solid” trade turnover, all the while emphasizing the “strategic character” of the ties between the two countries. The two leaders said they would also discuss the ways of advancing the spread of COVID-19 and Russia’s plans to provide the Sputnik V vaccine to Armenia.

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