‘Russia came to save Armenia’: Azeri President Aliyev tells Yerevan it should thank Putin for ‘once again’ coming to its rescue

An elderly woman stands on the balcony of an apartment building damaged during the military conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in Stepanakert October 11, 2020 REUTERS/Stringer An elderly woman stands on the balcony of an apartment building damaged during the military conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in Stepanakert October 11, 2020
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has called on Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to thank Russian President Vladimir Putin for saving his country. According to Aliyev, Putin rescued Armenia, which “depends on Russia 100%.”

“When Pashinyan gave us an ultimatum, when he offended the feelings of Azerbaijanis, he deserved to have been punished for it. And we [punished him].” Aliyev told Moscow daily RBK. “He should thank Putin for the fact that once again, Russia came to save Armenia.”

On Saturday, Russia helped broker a ceasefire between Baku and Yerevan. In the two days since the Moscow sit-down, hosted by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, at Putin's request, both countries have accused each other of violating the agreement, with reports of villages on both sides of the conflict line being hit by shelling.

According to Aliyev, Armenia’s “100% dependence” on Russia means that Moscow has a lot of influence over Yerevan, explaining that he repeatedly asked Russia to convince the Armenian side of the need to “end the occupation” of Nagorno-Karabakh. So far, it appears Moscow isn't prepared to take that step. 

In the two weeks since the fighting began, Putin has repeatedly called for a ceasefire in the region. Although Russia acts as a mediator in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, Moscow is officially allied to Yerevan as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and would be obliged to help Armenia if its, internationally-recognised, territory came under attack.

In 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan – 29 years later, on September 27, the region saw the largest escalation of fighting in almost three decades. Both Baku and Yerevan believe they have strong claims over the area, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is primarily populated by ethnic Armenians. Baku considers the enclave to be illegally occupied by Armenia, and has stated its goal is to regain full control of its territory.