Putin Finally Reveals His Solution to the Artsakh Conflict

Columnist Harut Sassounian
Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

After Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted and failed to establish a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenians around the world have been wondering why is he so reluctant to intervene more forcefully in the Artsakh War and stop the bloodshed.

There have been many speculations about Putin’s unexpected hands off approach to the Artsakh conflict, including several conspiracy theories which are not worth mentioning.

During an interview with a Western journalist last week, Putin finally revealed his plans to resolve the Artsakh conflict.

This is what Putin stated:

“You said that Russia has always had special ties with Armenia. But we have always had special relations with Azerbaijan too. More than two million Armenians and about two million Azerbaijanis live in Russia. These are not only those people who came for temporary work, but also those who live here almost permanently. Working in Russia, they send billions of dollars to support their families. All these people have very stable, close ties in Russia at the humanitarian level, interpersonal, business, family. Therefore, for us, both Armenia and Azerbaijan are equal partners. And it is a great tragedy for us when people die there. We want to build full-fledged relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. In each case of building relations with each of these countries there is something that distinguishes our relationship with another partner. Well, with Armenia this is Christianity. But we have very close ties with Azerbaijan in other areas as well. As for the religious component, I want to draw your attention to the fact that almost 15 percent of the population of the Russian Federation is Muslim. And even in this sense, Azerbaijan is not a foreign country for us. But what we definitely cannot forget is what happened in the fate of the Armenian people, the Armenian nation, during the First World War; a huge tragedy for the Armenian people. This is the second part. The third is that this conflict began just as an interstate conflict and a struggle for territories. It began as an ethnic confrontation. It is also unfortunately, a fact when in Sumgait [Azerbaijan], and then in Nagorno Karabakh, cruel crimes were committed against the Armenian people. We must take all this into account in a complex. At the same time, we understand that a situation in which a significant part of the territory of Azerbaijan has been lost by the country cannot last forever. Over the course of many, many years, we have proposed a variety of options for resolving this crisis in order to stabilize the situation for a long historical perspective. I will not go into details now, but believe me, it was hard work to bring the positions closer together. At some moments, it seemed that a little more, a little more, one more step, and we would find a solution. Unfortunately, this did not happen and today we have a conflict in its worst form. And the tragedy is that people are dying. You know, there are many losses on both sides. According to our information, there are more than two thousand dead on each side. The total death toll is already approaching five thousand. I draw your attention to the fact that 13,000 Soviet soldiers died in the 10 years of the war in Afghanistan. And in Karabakh, in such a short period of time, almost five thousand people have already died. How many were injured! How many people are suffering, how many children! Therefore, this is a special situation for us. Yes, the Minsk Group was created in 1992. Russia, France, and the United States as co-chairs, we are responsible for organizing this negotiating process. It is clear, I am 100 percent sure here that all participants in this process sincerely strive for the situation to be resolved. However, no one is as interested in this as Russia. This is happening in a broad sense with our people with our friends, with our relatives. Therefore, we take a position that would allow us to enjoy the trust of both sides and play an essential role as mediators in the settlement of this conflict to bring their positions closer. I would very much like this compromise to be found. As you know, I am in very close contact with both President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. I talk to them on the phone several times a day. Our foreign ministers, defense ministers, heads of special services are in constant contact. You know the foreign ministers of both countries came to visit us. They met in Washington on October 23rd. I very much hope that our American partners will act in unison with us and help the settlement. Let us hope for the best.”

I transcribed this lengthy translation of Putin’s remarks without any omission in order to provide the full context of his statement.

Obviously, Armenians are not happy with Pres. Putin equating with Armenia Russia’s relationship with Azerbaijan. Armenia is a strategic ally of Russia with a mutual defense treaty and with a Russian military base located on its territory. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is a puppet of Turkey and has taken many steps to undermine Russia’s geopolitical interests, such as the Azeri gas and oil pipelines that reduce the need for Russian oil in Europe.

Furthermore, the involvement of the Turkish military on Azerbaijan’s territory, a part of the Russian sphere of influence, undermines Russia’s interests. Even more alarming is Turkey’s recruitment of Syrian terrorists and their transfer to Azerbaijan to fight against Artsakh. This is an obvious danger to the national security of Russia. Putin did not mention the nefarious role of these terrorists.
The Russian government has made it clear, however, that the mutual defense treaty with Armenia only applies in case of a foreign attack on the Republic of Armenia, which excludes the territory of Artsakh, even though there have been several missile attacks on Armenia’s mainland.

Russia, on the other hand, has other interests with Turkey that it takes into consideration. These are:

  • Russia’s attempts in recent years to win over and separate Turkey from NATO.
  • Multi-billion trade between Russia and Turkey with Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missiles and the planned construction of a Russian nuclear power plant in Turkey.
  • Russia’s unwillingness to go to war against Azerbaijan and Turkey to protect Artsakh.
  • Russia and Turkey have conflicting interests in Syria and Libya where they have an uneasy understanding. The Artsakh conflict would place further pressure on the Russian-Turkish relationship should Russia become actively involved in the Artsakh war against Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Most significantly, as Putin said in his above quoted statement: “a situation in which a significant part of the territory of Azerbaijan has been lost by the country cannot last forever.” In other words, Putin implies that he is willing to accept that Azerbaijan militarily reoccupies the seven regions surrounding Artsakh and then negotiate the settlement of the final status of Artsakh. This is totally unacceptable for Armenia and Artsakh. It is imperative to counter the military moves of Azerbaijan and Turkey in order not to allow them to create new facts on the ground which would weaken Armenia’s bargaining position. Furthermore, the loss of the territories surrounding Artsakh — the buffer zone — would further threaten the existence of Artsakh.

Even more alarming, Putin announced that “many countries, including Turkey and a host of European states” should work together to find a consensus. Armenia and Artsakh would categorically reject Turkey’s involvement. How could Turkey, the instigator of the war, be considered a neutral mediator?

Armenians are somewhat reassured that in recent days, various Russian officials have confirmed Russia’s treaty obligation to defend the territory of the Republic of Armenia from any attacks by Azerbaijan or Turkey.

Armenia and Artsakh have difficult days ahead, left all alone to their fate. Only a resolute defense will safeguard the Armenian population of Artsakh.

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13 Comments

  1. Ara Sarian said:

    For decades Armenians have avoided the idea of seriously considering sending diaspora forces to support our historic homeland. Everyone sidesteps it as if unrealistic or romantic idealism. But I believe it is time to get rid of that psychological impediment. If we dare call ourselves a nation, we are compelled to think and act in unison and with one national goal and objective. This is potentially an existential war. We cannot afford the luxury of waiting to determine the outcome. Doing so, maybe too late. Nations call it battle readiness. We must master the art of the impossible and not accept defeat from fear of failure. From ancient times our ancestors did so and that is why we have survived as a nation while others around us perished. We must seriously consider the deployment of 50 to 100 thousand diaspora Armenian volunteer fighters to Armenia at this imminently critical juncture of our history. They all can be trained in Armenia. Just sending those fighters will cause major concern to the enemy, if nothing else. Action must be taken. We cannot be risk-averse. We cannot be watching from the sidelines. Unfortunately, there is no salvation without sacrifice in this world we live in. As the saying goes: “no guts no glory”. Deep down we all know that only with force can we redeem the losses of our ancestors and what may soon happen to our brothers in Artsakh and Armenia. This is not the time for deep rumination. Our national leaders must take action now. Enough of dithering and stale, regressive, and stagnant reasonings founded on19th century tired rhetoric.

    KNOW THIS: THE ARMENIAN NATION THE WORLD OVER IS EXPRESSING A UNIFIED VOICE. WE ARE WITNESSING A NATIONAL OUTCRY AND A SPIRITUAL RENAISSANCE. THIS IS THE SPARK. HEED THE MOMENTUM. THE PEOPLE ARE READY TO TAKE ACTION… LEAD!!!

    The danger is at the gateway and we know what must be done. This feeling of solidarity and patriotic calls and outbursts, no matter how genuine and uplifting will neither save our land nor our people. What many of our brave youth are doing in various parts of the world is indeed a psychological boost to Armenians and stimulates our spirits. It makes us feel useful that we are not sitting idle while our brothers are dying at home. But, we are confronted with a vile enemy that this time around could not catch us off guard, without weapons and defenseless. Yes, we are outnumbered, as always. But watch how long a small tribe of 150 thousand Artsakhtsis is holding up against superior enemy forces that are armed to the hilt. This is not an easy proposition. The great majority of us are burdened with financial, business, and social obligations that cannot be easily dismissed. But so were our diaspora volunteer fighters who joined the French Legion to fight in Kilikia in the 1920s.
    Fortunately, only very few of us will cower at the thought of engaging in a battle no matter how noble the cause. The voices of those naysayers must be smothered. I was extremely touched when I saw how many brave young Armenian women in military uniform volunteered to fight along with their male counterparts in Artsakh. These ladies are not to be confused with Armenian female soldiers who are part of Armenia’s military forces. Most Armenians and especially our young, smart, and talented generation carry in them the heroic spirit. Remember, you cannot preserve the culture and its people by hiding in the shadows hoping for a savior to do your bidding. It is now clear. No one is coming to help us, not even the fake Russians. We are on our own and yes we can prevail. Artsakh fighters prove it to us every hour of every day. Haghtelooyenk!!!

  2. Vartan said:

    Armenians are in this fight alone. Do not take Putin’s words at face value. He is a politician. Like all others, he never speaks the truth publicly.

    The only solution is to win and win big so as to discourage, once again as in 1994, Turkey and Azerbaijan from attacking again. Then, if Armenians get their heads out of their asses and finally unite, they can build their economy and thus their military strength. With modern weapons, they can repel any attack from ignorant, coward Turkic nomads.

    • Barséghian Ardachèce said:

      Beautiful words from a friend of the slide well installed in the U.S. and who advice endlessly. Come to the country after we’ll see what to do, it’s on my friend I’m waiting for you to tell you an old revolutionary song that says ” MIIAYN ZENKOV GA HAIOTS PERGOUTIOUN’ So for 30 years where were these policies? it filled the pockets of the funds of the country, in beaaux, luxury cars with drivers and militias and with immunity because deputies of the Nation, customers of the great Bankers and Casinos of the World, crushing the people, rural families, who could not access health, education, corrupting mafias and where was Our Party? At the odds of these bands … until today.

  3. Ari said:

    Before the Bolshevik revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan never existed as a country on the pages of history. Whereas the Armenian history dates back thousands of years with many Armenian dynasties ruling the region, including the present-day Azerbaijan.

    The fact is that Nagorno-Karabakh region was gifted by Stalin (a Georgian National) to the Azeris who are ethnically Turkish. Stalin also gifted Nakhichevan to the Azeris and northern regions of traditionally Armenian lands to the current day Georgian Republic.

    To appease the Turks and to unite against the WW I Allied Powers (including the United States) Bolsheviks also gifted Western Armenia to the current day Republic of Turkey, even though the Turks had agreed to the arbitration outcome by the United States which carved out an independent Armenia out of the ashes of Armenian Genocide. The genocide was committed by the Turks, their Azeri cousins and other regional Muslims which included the Kurds. The Wilsonian Armenia (so called because President Wilson was the designated arbitrator) included Eastern Turkey (or historic Western Armenia), Nakhichevan and of course Nagorno-Karabakh, a.k.a. Artsakh in the Armenian language.

    During the Soviet Union Era the Azeris were successful to fulfill the Pan-Turkish agenda by carrying out the depopulation and expulsion of ethnic Armenians from Nakhichevan. Leaders of the current Turkish Republic continued the Armenian Genocide well into 1930s and have virtually erased any trace of the Armenian heritage in Western Armenia. Now, both countries (ruled by Nationalist Islamist dictators) are attempting to complete the eradication of the Christians from their ancestral lands and re-establishKent of the Islamic Caliphate which once was the Ottoman Empire, as did ISIS in Syria earlier this decade.

    It is very surprising to witness that for over a century the Western democracies have turned a blind eye to the Armenian tragedy and instead have chosen to not only remain silent. but also allow the Turks to carry out their genocidal agenda in the region against the Armenians and other Christians like the Greeks, Assyrians and other regional minorities such as the Yazidi people. Western powers have also encouraged the Turkish Islamist nationalism by supporting the Turkish Republic, mainly by inviting it into the NATO Alliance.

    More surprising is how Russian policy is full of hypocrisy. While Russia has annexed Crimea – rightfully so, because this historic land was gifted to Ukraine by Soviet heavy hands like Khrushchev and Brejneff in 1950s, Russia does not want to undo Soviet Era unjust Armenian land giveaway to Azerbaijan and Turkey.

    As a first step and as soon as possible, Armenia must insist for Russia to annul all Soviet Era agreements and help Armenia to reclaim her stolen homelands from the Turks.

  4. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    Respectable Mr. Sassounian, it is now proven that we are advancing in the inexperience of relations Diaspora Government for lack of consultation to speak with one voice, that of the government and not independently of this or that Party. To begin with, our government is depriving itself of consultation with its eminent experts, politics, jurist, diplomacy, militaro stratege, history and advance spontanely dangerous to pretend to single-hand the relexion and decision. You certainly have the means to be heard like this, I would like to quote you 3 names plus an eminent lady intellectual doctor professor whose name I forgot, so it is imperative to listen to Arman Navassardyan, Levon Chirinyan and Ara Papyan and the latter advances the analysis in all its forms as absurd against productive to claim the independence of Artsakh. The war imposed on us by the Turkish-Azerie alliance against Armenia, whose weak link is Artsakh. What have we explained to us what benefit we will derive from this cabal if by a great chance or political incomprehension a country or two accepted this recognition? Absolutely no interest other than additional difficulties and a budget overload a huge point of administrative view … two presidents, two parliaments, two … and finally a weapon of defense. Stop throwing such political desiderata NEFASTE, IRREFLECHIE so much so that Mr Putin has a good back saying “Armenie is not an assault … it is The Artsakh and our commitment does not include this “state” (even if …) since the Armenian government and L’Artsakh have thus decided and propagate this desir to the states of the world which remain concretely indifferent knowing that this issue is of such complexity in terms of unaffordable international law.

  5. Mike said:

    Russian oligarchs keep their money in Western Banks? Russian leadership does not have freedom to have imperialistic interests of its own. Kremlin is a regional manager that works for globalist interests. As son as Armenian people overturned its kleptocratic corrupt government and installed pro-Armenian leadership, Russian propaganda machine started its blame revenge against new Armenian government and now its role is not to interfere with the war. Russian kleptocracy oppress its own people. Why would they care about Armenians? They will not allow Armenians to build its own successful country. Russian managers received the order from globalists, not to interfere with Turkey’s expansion.

  6. Khatchig said:

    The true colors of the western governments and Russia are becoming clear again. As my father , a survivor of the Genocide, used to used to say:” They stayed idle while Armenians were being massacred, afterwards they felt sorry and opened orphanages and refugee camps”. We can only rely on our Unity and thwart the the barbaric attacks of Azerbaijan, Turkey and hired mercenaries.

  7. HERAYER said:

    IT IS TIME FOR PUTIN TO STOP THIS HORRIBLE AGGRESSION ON THE BRAVE PEOPLE OF ARTSAKH BY TERRORISTS OF AZERBAIJAN,TURKEY, AND THE JIHADISTS FROM SYRIA. I AM SURE PUTIN HAS THE CAPABILITY TO STOP THIS INHUMAN WAR!!!!!

  8. Ara said:

    In past years Armenia has been weakened by lack of state strategies, corruption theft of state recources and false feeling of power based on past victories. Right now Artsakh looses territory after territory and to gain them back with current condition in its military does not look possible. Armenia has lost lost of military equipment and key lands. This is going to be a major disaster for Armenian nation which Armenian people do not fully realize yet.

  9. Josef Bi said:

    Dear Armenians, I love you, I love Armenia. Have been there several times, even in Artsakh.. What to say at this difficult moment – I still hope you can win. Armenia needs billions dollars, not 10 or 100 million USD. Armenian diaspora is too rich and can provide this sum. Armenia need hi tech industry, military industry, industrial agriculture, develop tourism sector and need western military products, for example Javelin rockets. And one remark – Nikol P. is a disaster, so naive, but it s not important now. Past goverment was full of the thieves. Armenia could be stronger without this. Work hard, have more kids, be strong!!!!

  10. GB said:

    About 20% of the Russian Federation population are Islamic Turkic-Tatar tribes, even Putin mentions during his translation talk show. I wonder why nobody received his political signal? A bunch of amateur stupid politicians runs in Armenia, where people hopelessly looking for a genius one. The three Soviet-era politicians proved to be Oligarchy and corrupt, and the last one was stupid with a charming tongue.

  11. Vartan_Authentic said:

    Parev, Let me be clear, we will never get out of this geographic trap. An exile to quieter landscapes such as Australia, New Zealand or Portugal is preferable to these eternal Mongolian persecutions. The next earthquake in the Caucasus will not kill Armenians. If people insist nevertheless on staying, they would, at least, try to consider broadening their horizons through China’s involvement in the Caucasus affairs to counterbalance Russian-Mongolian domination.
    It is so painful to continually receive bad news from the Armenias.

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