Russian President Vladimir Putin has held meetings with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders as part of efforts aimed at mediating a peace agreement and ending a longstanding conflict between the two ex-Soviet neighbors over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Putin said in a meeting with Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Monday that the goals of the potential agreement would be to ensure peace and stability, and unblock transportation infrastructure to help Armenia's economic and social development.
Pashinyan, for his part, said he would press for Azerbaijan to withdraw its troops from the Russian peacekeeping zone in Nagorno-Karabakh and seek freedom for Armenian prisoners of war.
The Russian leader also held a separate meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev regarding the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Putin said the meetings would make it possible to outline steps to resolve the feud.
“We see the approaches of our colleagues to what is happening on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and around Karabakh," the Russian president said. “This conflict has been going on for a decade, so we still need to end it.”
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been populated by ethnic Armenians.
Last month, simmering tensions between the estranged neighbors caused a fresh flare-up over the region, leaving nearly 100 soldiers dead on both sides. Armenia and Azerbaijan traded blame for triggering the fighting. It was the most recent episode in tensions between the two Caucasus countries since thousands were killed in a 44-day war over the territory that ended in November 2020.
At that time, Russia brokered a peace deal between the two sides and has since deployed about 2,000 troops to the region to serve as peacekeepers.
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