Armenia’s President Says Moscow Has Admitted to Not Fulfilling its Obligation in Parukh

President Vahagn Khachatryan (center) briefs members of the Russian Armenian community

President Vahagn Khachatryan said on Friday that Russia has admitted that it had not fulfilled its obligation in its peacekeeping mission in Artsakh, which led to Azerbaijani forces breaching the line-of-contact and advancing their positions into the Parukh village in Artsakh’s Askeran Region.

Khachatryan was speaking to members of the Armenian community in Russia as he is in St. Petersburg to attend an international economic forum.

“I also took part in the discussions during those tense days and we showed a very tough position,” Khachatryan told the gathering. “As a result of that position, the Russian side finally admitted that there was a gap. Now they are conducting an internal investigation to understand the reason, but they admitted that they had not actually fulfilled their obligation,” the Armenian Service of RFE/RL reported on Friday.

Khachatryan said that at the time there was no need to address the matter publicly. He explained that during internal discussion the Russians admitted that the peacekeepers did not do what they should have done.

After weeks of attacks on the Parukh village, in late March, Azerbaijani forces breached the line-of-contact, which is under the Russian peacekeepers control, and advanced their positions into the village, from where they also set up positions on the strategic Karaglukh Heights.

At the time, Russia called on Azerbaijan to withdraw its troops from the area. However, local observers continue to observe that such a pull-back has not occurred and Azerbaijani forces continue to remain in the area.

“The situation is so tense there that even the people of Nagorno Karabakh have said that if the peacekeepers can not ensure our security, we will return to Armenia,” said Khachatryan, who explained that the Russian side has insisted that its peacekeepers are obligated to ensure the security and urged the population to not abandon the area.

Last week, while in Yerevan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a resolution to the situation in Parukh was a key foreign policy priority for Russia, adding that such issues would be discussed within the context of delimiting and demarcating of borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Lavrov’s remarks set off a frenzy in Baku, which shot back by saying that the Parukh region has nothing to do with the demarcation process, since the village is located in Khojaly, which Azerbaijan is currently occupying.

Since then, the Russian foreign ministry has walked back Lavrov’s statements, with its spokesperson Maria Zakharova on Thursday saying that Parukh matter has no connection to the border demarcation process.

During his meeting with the Russian Armenian community, President Khachatryan insisted that based on the new developments, Yerevan should first advance the rights of the Armenians of Artsakh, and secure the final status of Nagorno Karabakh. Moreover, Khachatryan claimed, that the leadership of Artsakh agrees with this position.

Official Stepanakert has been clear in its position: the Karabakh conflict should be settled by ensuring Artsakh’s right to self-determination, which does not envision Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan.

Khachatryan claimed that when he met with Lavrov on June 9, Russia’s top diplomat supposedly told him that Moscow shares Yerevan’s position on the Parukh matter, which Khachatryan claimed Lavrov spoke about “in a special way” and thanked him for coming to that conclusion, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reported.