1 President Putin gave some interesting answers to questions about Russia’s new role in the #Karabakh conflict. Suggests he was much more strongly involved than was visible during the conflict. Some takeaways: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/64431
2 Putin’s personal engagement. He says that he was engaged in intense telephone diplomacy with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts. Like it or not, the Russians (he, Lavrov, Medvedev) know the Karabakh brief in all its details. No Western leader would even come close.
3 He says that a truce was close on Oct 19-20 but Pashinyan rejected it as it entailed the return of Azerbaijanis to Shusha/i—presumably inside Armenian-controlled NK. Such a deal would have saved many lives, also been much better for Armenian side than the one of Nov. 10
4 The Russian leader agrees that NK status remains unresolved says this is for the future: “What happens next will be decided eventually by the future leaders and the future participants in this process.” That of course can serve as an argument to maintain Russian PKs in NK...
5 Putin also ties himself in knots explaining why Russia chose to back some separatists (Abkhazia, S. Ossetia, Crimea) in sovereignty disputes but not others. His answer basically is that Russia acted as it did in these places to protect its own...
6 Moscow did so “in the interests of the people who live there and in the interests of Russia, and we are not ashamed to speak about it openly.” In essence (of course) it’s about Big Power interests and loyalty. Cf Erdogan and Cyprus/ Trump and Golan Heights
7 Putin explicitly backs Pashinyan, despite their reported poor relations: “accusations of treason against him are absolutely groundless,” to reject the agreement “would be suicidal.” Maybe a bit disingenuous--Putin does not want to be the one blamed for pushing out Pashinyan?
8 Putin downplays Turkey's role, says AZ as a sovereign country has the right to choose its partners. But rejects idea of Turkish PK role: “We agreed that Turkey, acting at the request of Azerbaijan, would take part in monitoring compliance with the ceasefire conditions.”
9 He also rejects Turkey’s claim for a bigger mediating role. Reaffirms OSCE Minsk co-chair format together with France and the U.S. Says that these two “support” Russia. Does keeping old format for Russia basically mean confirming its place in the driving seat? ENDS
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