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: en.kremlin.ru/events/preside…
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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More from @Tom_deWaal

15 Nov
1 A THREAD about Kelbajar. Today was billed as a momentous day for Kelbajar region with Armenian forces scheduled to withdraw from lands they have held since April 1993 + control restored to Azerbaijan. However the timetable has been extended, perhaps to ease potential trouble
2 Personally I think of my friend photographer Khalid Asgarov from Kelbajar. I used several of his pictures in my book (where I spelled his name Halid Askerov.) He had come to rescue his father and was there as Armenians moved in. Here is a picture by Khalid of the mass flight.
3 In 2017 @bbcwitness interviewed Khalid. He tells the story of how the only escape route for thousands was by foot across the Murov Mountains. Livestock perished and people froze. Listen to the story of how he walked with his father for two days. bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0…
Read 14 tweets
9 Nov
1 Conflict continues deep inside #Karabakh. It seemed today that Shusha/i had fallen. Picture not fully clear.
Let me focus on the humanitarian situation in Karabakh. Yesterday I spoke to Artak Beglaryan, local human rights ombudsman. He said I could share the information.
2 Beglaryan told me the following: Bombardment continues. Thousands of civilians left Karabakh over the weekend for Armenia mainly women and children. They mainly left on the northern route, as the road through Lachin was too dangerous.
3 He estimates that 100,000 Karabakh Armenians have been displaced by the conflict, mainly to Armenia, but also within Karabakh itself. (That is probably more than two thirds of the local population.)
Read 9 tweets
8 Nov
6 Yet hard to predict a pause. Fighting continues on multiple fronts. Armenians say they cannot afford to lose Shusha/i. With more civilians removed from Stepanakert, Azerbaijani forces could attack the town even more intensely.
7 Also today, a leaked report of a purported Russian-Turkish peace plan offering a mixed PK operation (Russians on Arm. side, Turks on Az. side), Armenian withdrawal from occupied territories around NK, two corridors across Lachin and Meghri.
8 Plan reported here has a Turkish spin, was rumoured in mid-October. Nothing here on the big issue, the status of NK itself. But one more sign that the “Basic Principles” framework is crumbling. Instead an "enforced peace" plan by latter-day authoritarian Sultan and Tsar.
Read 4 tweets
8 Nov
1 A fateful day in the #Karabakh conflict. Pres. Aliyev announced to his nation that the hilltop city of Shusha, the former main Azerbaijani town in the heart of Karabakh, had fallen. No visual evidence given. Armenians (who call the town Shushi) said fighting continued.
2 Still, Pres. Aliyev's speech sparked scenes of jubilation in Azerbaijan. Shusha has a huge meaning for Azerbaijanis and its loss in May 1992 to the Armenians was felt as a moment of national humiliation.
3 Also, reports today of columns of cars evacuating thousands of Armenian women and children from Karabakh, amidst new bombardment of Stepanakert and fears that the battle for Shusha/i could spread next to this town, down in the valley. Read here eurasianet.org/fears-of-civil…
Read 5 tweets
5 Nov
1 For those distracted by news elsewhere: the war in #Karabakh may be moving towards a potentially bloody battle for the city of Shusha (which Armenians call Shushi) deep inside the territory. Azerbaijani forces are reported to be no more than 3-4 km away.
2 A week ago the push was towards Lachin between Armenia and NK. A switch to Shusha may make less sense militarily but has political significance. To see their flag over the high citadel of Shusha appears to be the No. 1 objective of Pres. Aliyev and the Azerbaijani public.
3 Shusha has great meaning in Azerbaijan as the birthplace of poets and composers. It was their town in Karabakh before the war, with an 85 percent Azerbaijani population. See this patriotic video released today.
Read 7 tweets
23 Oct
1 From Putin's comments yesterday on #Karabakh war at Valdai Club: First, worth noting that he talked about several other issues, such as cyber-security and the START treaty, before the war came up. War wasn’t the first item on the agenda. kremlin.ru/events/preside…
2 Second, Putin wanted to come across as absolutely even-handed: “For us Armenia and Azerbaijan are equal partners.” That will obviously infuriate Armenians as the Az. military advance continues. No mention of CSTO commitments, only of shared Christianity.
3 Third, Putin expressed frustration with both sides that they were not flexible enough and never agreed to Russian peace plans. This is a common Putin theme on this conflict: that is up to the parties and not Russia to "take responsibility” for NK conflict.
Read 4 tweets

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