Russia does not have obligation to defend Armenia in a war outside its territories, Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after a meeting with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian (not seen) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Vasily Maximov/Pool

Russia does not have an obligation to defend Armenia, as its conflict with Azerbaijan is not being waged in Armenian territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

Speaking in an interview with the Russian public broadcaster, Putin also reiterated his call for a cease-fire, adding that the events were a tragedy and that Moscow was none-the-less deeply concerned.

Russia’s TASS news agency also said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had spoken with Putin over the phone to discuss the latest developments in the region.

Ongoing clashes began Sept. 27, when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to multiple casualties.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Multiple United Nations resolutions, as well as international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the invading forces.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States, was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict but to no avail. However, a cease-fire was reached in 1994.

Many world powers, including Russia, France, and the U.S., have called for an immediate cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku’s right to self-defense.