MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday for talks that focused on bilateral ties and the implementation of a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped last year’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
Putin emphasized the “strategic character” of Russia’s relationship with Armenia in his opening remarks at the meeting held in the Kremlin. He also noted the “solid” volume of Russian-Armenian trade, expressing confidence that it will grow again after shrinking last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Putin went on to mention the “post-war situation” in the Karabakh conflict zone and, in particular, renewed transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan envisaged by the ceasefire agreement which he brokered in November.
He said the reopening of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border for commercial traffic will give Armenia “new opportunities for the country’s development.” “In my view, this is an extremely important thing,” he told Pashinian.
Pashinyan complained, for his part, that Azerbaijan is continuing to hold many Armenian prisoners of war and civilian captives in breach of the truce accord. “I am very glad that we have no differences regarding how to resolve this problem,” he said.
“I would like to note that in this context there is a very important issue that has not yet been settled,” Pashinyan told Putin. “This is a question of prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees.”
“As we have repeatedly discussed…all hostages, prisoners of war, and other detainees should be returned to their homeland, but, unfortunately, we still have detainees in Azerbaijan,” the Armenian prime minister added.
Pashinyan also cited the need to ascertain “some nuances” of Russian-Armenian military cooperation. He also announced that Armenia will receive on Thursday the first 15,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19.
“We need more than a million doses,” the Armenian leader said, implicitly asking Putin to facilitate their delivery.
“Our [vaccine] production is gaining momentum,” replied Putin. “We are talking about a fairly large volume of production of this vaccine. So I think that we will solve this problem.”