Russia says defense pact does not apply to Karabakh


Commitments of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance of six former Soviet states, don't apply to the Upper Karabakh region, Russia's presidential spokesman said on Wednesday.

Responding to a question on the possibility of Russia sending troops to the Upper Karabakh region, Dmitry Peskov said: "If a CSTO member country is exposed to some aggression, attack from the outside, in this case, the member states of the treaty have commitments to stand up for such a state."

Reminding Russian President Putin's statements on the issue, Peskov added: "In this case, we are talking about Armenia. The president has clearly and wholly clarified this and delimited these two issues."

Earlier, Putin said that the Armenia-Azerbaijan military conflict was not taking place on Armenian territory.

The CSTO is a Russia-led military alliance that was signed in 2002 by seven former Soviet states, including Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Upper Karabakh conflict

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

New clashes erupted on Sept. 27 but international calls for a halt to fighting have gone unanswered. Armenia has continued its attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, who are the rightful owners of the occupied region.

The OSCE Minsk Group -- co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US -- was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire was agreed upon in 1994.

Turkey has condemned Armenian occupation, and vowed support for Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has said Turkey must be involved in the process to resolve the decades-long conflict.

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