Putin defends Karabakh deal after France criticism

·2-min read
Vladimir Putin admitted that the ceasefire had not solved the issue of the final status of Karabakh
Vladimir Putin admitted that the ceasefire had not solved the issue of the final status of Karabakh

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday defended a ceasefire deal he brokered between Azerbaijan and Armenia after France called for him to fix "ambiguities" in the text.

Putin said the deal laid the basis for "long-term normalisation" for the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

However, he admitted that the ceasefire, which allowed Azerbaijan to consolidate major territorial gains after several weeks of bitter fighting, had not solved the "problem" of the final status of Karabakh.

France earlier urged Russia to clarify the role of Turkey, make provisions for foreign fighters and put in place a plan to discuss the future status of the region.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament in Paris the issues would be discussed at a meeting in Moscow of the so-called Minsk Group -- a decades-old talking shop seeking a solution to the conflict, co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States.

The US State Department echoed France's view, saying there were still questions the Russians needed to clarify about the deal, "and that included the role of the Turks".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a visit to Georgia, which borders both parties to the conflict, said the ceasefire was just a first step towards creating a peaceful settlement.

He urged all sides to start talking under the Minsk Group.

But Putin defended the deal, saying on Russian state television: "The fact that hostilities have stopped and there is an agreement to unblock transport, restore economic ties, it's extremely important."

Conceding that there was a problem with deciding the final status of Karabakh, he added: "What happens next should be decided in the future, or by future leaders, future participants in this process."

Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan populated by ethnic Armenians that broke away from Baku's control in a war as the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s.

Under the ceasefire, Russian troops have deployed in the enclave since last week to keep the peace

Putin said Turkey, which supports Baku, will be associated with the peace-keeping process through a joint control centre with Russia that will use drones, but that Turkish troops will not enter Nagorno-Karabakh.

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