It's up to Moscow to protect locals from Azerbaijan, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan has said
Russia is now responsible for the safety of people in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has stated. A one-day Azerbaijani operation in the disputed region ended in a Moscow-mediated ceasefire on Wednesday.
The Armenian leader distanced his nation from the outcome of the brief conflict, claiming that his government had nothing to do with the truce between Baku and the self-proclaimed authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Speaking in an address to the nation, he argued that since the Russian peacekeepers in the region facilitated the ceasefire, they have now taken "full unconditional responsibility for providing safety to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh."
He reiterated Yerevan's assurances that the Armenian military has not fielded any assets in Nagorno-Karabakh for years. Azerbaijan's claims to the contrary were meant to drag Yerevan into a new round of hostilities, he stated, adding that if this had happened, Armenia's sovereignty would have been at risk.
Pashinyan confirmed that there has been a rapid drop in the level of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, and expressed hope that this will continue.
Yerevan will continue to monitor the situation, the prime minister added. Its main interest is to protect the right of ethnic Armenians to live in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Armenian government previously claimed that Baku wants to "ethnically cleanse" the region. Russian peacekeepers are now responsible for preventing this, Pashinyan said.
The predominantly ethnic Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh pushed for independence from Baku in the waning years of the USSR. They fought a bloody war against Azerbaijan in the 1990s, and the region has existed since then as an internationally unrecognized entity tacitly supported by Yerevan.
In 2020, a major conflict for Nagorno-Karabakh ended with Baku seizing control over large parts of the territory it previously lost. A Moscow-mediated truce concluded the hostilities, with the peacekeeping contingent deployed to monitor the situation.
The Pashinyan government has accused Moscow of failing to provide military support in its confrontation with Azerbaijan, including along their mutual border outside of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia has said that the prime minister undermined the region's cause by formally recognizing it as part of Azerbaijan during EU-mediated peace talks last year.