The Russian President held a meeting on the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh

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Vladimir Putin President of Russia
Vladimir Putin President of Russia

Meeting on a Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh

The President held a meeting on the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, via videoconference.

Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region, November 20, 2020

The President held a meeting on the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, via videoconference.
The President held a meeting on the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, via videoconference.

1 of 3The President held a meeting on the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, via videoconference.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov and Commander of the Russian Peacekeeping Contingent in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and Deputy Commander of the troops in the Southern Military District Lt-Gen Rustam Muradov.

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

I have called this meeting today to return once again to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Conflicts like this, their settlement is particularly important to us. It has special significance for us and plays a special role. These are not empty words for us. I am referring to the fact that millions of Armenians and Azerbaijanis live in Russia. We are linked with their republics by centuries-long ties, without exaggeration. This also has a domestic political dimension for us and is very important for our domestic security and politics. The CIS is our foreign policy priority, an obvious fact for everyone. This matters a lot for the economy as well.

We all know well that we have special relations with these republics: deep cooperation and interchangeability. I will not list all the components of this extremely important direction on the CIS track.

As I said at the November 13 meeting, now the priority task is to support and help the residents of this region who sustained heavy damage from the hostilities.

An Interdepartmental Centre for Humanitarian Response is being created to resolve the problems at hand. I am aware that, given the tasks facing the centre, specialised divisions are now being formed.

I would like to take this opportunity to point out the precise and well-coordinated work of the Russian peacekeepers. Prompt demining has made it possible to establish reliable communications in the region, and deploying our peacekeeping forces made it possible to stop the bloodshed and avoid more casualties. Our military is maintaining effective control over the ceasefire, which is being observed by both sides. Overall, the situation has stabilised.

In addition, the Russian service personnel is escorting refugees and bringing residential buildings, roads, and social facilities up to code. They are ensuring security for convoys with humanitarian supplies as well.

Let me emphasise that our humanitarian efforts and aid should benefit both the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples. We empathise with everyone who is in trouble.

You may be aware that I am in constant touch with my colleagues in Armenia and Azerbaijan. I agreed with both leaders that a Russian interdepartmental delegation consisting of the heads of a number of ministries and departments would be sent to Armenia and Azerbaijan soon. Its goal is to review the most pressing issues of implementing the trilateral statement of November 9, including, of course, humanitarian issues. I hope that the upcoming consultations will help us make significant progress in these areas.

Mobilisation and international assistance are of particular importance. Our peacekeepers have created the basis for this. I am aware that people in many countries are concerned about the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and empathise with the people in this plight. However, safe conditions for humanitarian organisations have been created, and there remains much to accomplish.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has the leading role here. Red Cross President Peter Maurer visited Moscow two days ago and confirmed the organisation’s readiness to step up its activities in Yerevan, Baku and Stepanakert while relying on support from Russia and Russian peacekeepers.

I consider it important that representatives from other international agencies follow this example. I am referring to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS).

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) will be called on to play a positive role later, when we come to the task of post-conflict recovery.

I would like to emphasise the need to protect historical and religious landmarks, both in Azerbaijan and Armenia. This issue is of great moral and human importance. I believe UNSCO’s involvement is much needed in this respect.

We also hope for UNESCO’s aid to children and teenagers that are particularly defenceless when confronted with the horrors of armed conflicts.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has instructions to work in all of these areas. We expect to receive tangible results in the near future.

Our humanitarian efforts and the involvement of the relevant international agencies will eventually help us find a reliable and long-term political settlement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We will continue developing cooperation with our partners in the OSCE Minsk Group on this foundation.

I have evaluated our common efforts and hope that our work will continue.

Let us hear the reports. I would first like to hear what you have to say. Based on this, we will agree on the next steps.

Mr Shoigu, please.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief,

Under your executive order, the Russian peacekeeping contingent has been deployed on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and has begun implementing its tasks. The 15th detached motorised infantry brigade units that form the backbone of the peacekeeping contingent have been prepared and transferred to the conflict zone. In all, 250 flights have been made to carry 1,960 people and 552 units of equipment.

Today, the Lachin corridor and the Nagorno-Karabakh territory are fully controlled by Russian peacekeeping units. They are monitoring the ceasefire from 23 observation posts. A control system for prompt response to any change in the situation has been deployed to carry out the peacekeeping mission. General Headquarters has coordinated and established direct communication channels with the military departments of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Since November 14, Russian peacekeepers have ensured the safe return of 4,436 refugees to Stepanakert, those who fled the conflict zone earlier. We have established cooperation with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani parties are exchanging bodies of military personnel under the coordinating role of the Russian peacekeepers. The Lachin corridor and a 28 km section of the road to Stepanakert have been fully cleared of mines, other explosive devices and combat hardware destroyed during the hostilities. Safe civilian traffic has been opened on this section since November 17.

As for implementing the memorandum on creating a joint Russian-Turkish centre in Azerbaijan for monitoring the ceasefire and combat activities, we are finishing our talks with the Turkish representatives on the location and tasks of this centre.

The measures taken by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will ensure unconditional implementation of the trilateral statement and facilitate stabilisation in the region, helping Armenian and Azerbaijani residents return to peaceful life in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief,

I would like to ask you to give the floor to the Commander of the Peacekeeping Contingent Lt-Gen Muradov who will report on the local situation in more detail.

Vladimir Putin: Please, Mr Muradov, go ahead.

Commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov: Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief, good afternoon.

Commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov reporting.

The Russian peacekeeping contingent, in line with the set objectives, is supervising the implementation of the agreements on the ceasefire and all hostilities along the contact line between the two parties in Nagorno-Karabakh.

No ceasefire violations or provocations have been recorded. Some small incidents are being settled by peacekeeping contingent representatives on the ground. For this purpose, cooperation with the commands of the conflicting parties in the zones of operation and the municipal authorities has been established.

The territory of Nagorno-Karabakh has been divided into zones of responsibility. The northern zone is monitored from 11 observation posts by the 1st Battalion of the 15th Motorised Rifle Brigade. The southern zone in the Lachin Corridor, by the 2nd Battalion from 12 observation posts. A command post has been established in the city of Stepanakert from which the peacekeeping forces are controlled. The observation posts have been provided with all forms of communication, including closed, satellite and video conferencing. Work is underway on providing them with mobile video monitoring equipment, which will allow for distant all-round observation including at night.

In addition, drones are being used around the clock to monitor the situation. Russian peacekeeping personnel are being provided with rations, pay and allowances in accordance with the current standards.

Comrade Commander-in-Chief, today, in strict compliance with the trilateral statement, the Peacekeeping Command, with the Russian peacekeepers, has completed the mission on withdrawing the Armenian armed units from Agdam district, which was surrendered to the Azerbaijani side.

The Russian peacekeepers understand the full responsibility of the objectives set before them and are ready to pursue them in strict compliance with the instructions issued by you and the Defence Minister.

Comrade Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Muradov’s report is complete.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Muradov, after the Armenian units withdraw from some of the districts, say, Agdam and Lachin, Armenian civilians will remain there.

Obviously, our peacekeepers are on the contact line, but I know that you have good relations with both sides, the Armenian and the Azerbaijani sides. The people who occupy the positions abandoned by the Armenian army – of course, they are conflicting parties, yet the conflict is over, they are civilised people anyway. I know that the prevailing mood among them is friendly, but we must establish communication with both sides, in this case with the Azerbaijan side, so that the situation in the liberated areas can remain stable and can facilitate conditions for living together for the people of both ethnicities without any individual conflicts. This is definitely the responsibility of the Azerbaijani side in the full sense of this word.

I know the commitments of Azerbaijan’s President. This is exactly how he approaches the organisation of this future work, from exactly this kind of position. But at the first stage you must also establish contacts with both sides so as to have information about the developments, and to exchange this information in a timely manner with both the Armenian side and our Azeri colleagues.

Rustam Muradov: Yes, Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

Vladimir Putin: The same goes for historical, cultural and religious heritage sites. I spoke with Mr Aliyev, and he also proceeds from the fact that the Azerbaijani authorities will take everything under control and will ensure access to these religious facilities for both Armenians and, of course, Azerbaijanis. One of them is within your control area, it is one of the oldest Christian monasteries. We have to ensure access for both Armenians and Azeris. There are Christians in Azerbaijan as well, and this is one of the oldest Christian churches. All of that must be taken into account, and a proper schedule of operations must be arranged during contacts with both sides. Thank you.

Mr Lavrov, please tell us about the work with our partners abroad.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Mr President, colleagues,

During these days, since November 13, we have been in close contact with the American and French co-chairs, who visited Moscow. I met with them, and my colleagues met with them as well.

We provided them with full information that has confirmed once again that the agreement reached by the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed on November 9 is in full consonance with the principles that were agreed upon in the past few years by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and received broad support throughout the world.

Mr President, at the current stage we are focusing on the work with international organisations per your instructions. This is primarily the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Its president, Peter Maurer, visited Moscow and discussed in detail the situation and prospects for our cooperation at the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry and our other agencies that are involved in this work in various ways.

The Red Cross is unique because it has representative offices in Yerevan, Baku and Stepanakert. They had to leave Stepanakert during the hostilities but came back several days ago. They are interested in very close contacts with our peacekeepers and the International Humanitarian Response Centre. You have set us these tasks, and we are guided by them in all of our actions.

More work must be done with UN agencies, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and UNESCO. These agencies are not always represented in the region, but they are working on it.

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Vladimir Putin: I would like to thank the participants of the meeting for the work you have done to this point. I would also like to ask you to continue fulfilling your tasks on maintaining peace in the region, to maintain close contact with both Armenian and Azerbaijani representatives, ensure the active performance of the Interdepartmental Humanitarian Response Centre and use its great potential in full measure.

This intensive work must be aimed at the final result, and providing assistance to real people, those who need this help now, can be the final result.

Thank you very much.

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