On June 18, within the framework of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, RA President Vahagn Khachaturyan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time. The official websites of the President of Armenia and the Kremlin quoted different parts of Khachaturian’s statements in St. Petersburg. According to the Russian side, Khachaturyan also told Putin that Armenia wanted to end the 44-day war earlier.
“In reality, we wanted to put a stop to the war earlier, to end the war somehow, and I know your efforts. You had the opportunity on October 19 , we also talked about it with Sergey Vikorovich [Lavrov] when he was in Yerevan. But it ended up happening on November 9 , but the most important thing was that the war stopped,” the Kremlin noted in its statement.
This portion is missing in both the text and video statements in the Presidential Palace of Armenia.
We inquired from the Presidential Public Relations Office whether Khachaturyan really said those words, and if so, why they were not included in the message spread by the Armenian side. In response, they urged us to fill out a request in writing.
The press described Khachaturyan’s statement as scandalous and confessional. The “Alternative Projects Group” announced that Khachaturyan “put Prime Minister Pashinyan in a difficult situation” with that step. According to them, “Vahagn Khachaturyan, by and large, started the process of Nikol’s impeachment, laying a legitimate basis under it.”
Arthur Khachatryan, a member of the “Hayastan” parliamentary faction, claimed in a Facebook post that the president had involuntarily confessed that Pashinyan was guilty.
“… Let’s prove that Khachaturyan simply denied Pashinyan’s main narratives and found him guilty of handing over Shushi,” the deputy wrote.
“President Vahagn Khachaturyan made a scandalous statement. “During the meeting with Putin in St. Petersburg, he admitted that there was an opportunity to stop the 44-day war on October 19.”
Interestingly, according to the Kremlin, Khachaturyan addressed Vladimir Putin and said that the Russian president had the opportunity to stop the war on October 19, but the media stressed that the Armenian side had the opportunity to stop the war if not for Nikol Pashinyan.
And what did Pashinyan say about October 19?
Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the possibility of stopping the war on October 19 and not once. Let us refer to those announcements in chronological order.
November 29, 2020
Pashinyan spoke about the possibility of stopping the war on October 19, more than a month after the end of the war, on November 29. He wrote on his Facebook page that he had talked to the Russian president that day, who said that the war should be stopped “by the logic of Russian proposals, i.e., postponing the status issue, handing over the regions, and deploying Russian peacekeepers.” According to Pashinyan, the peacekeepers were to be deployed along the former NKAO border and throughout the Lachin corridor.
The next day, according to Pashinyan, Vladimir Putin conveyed that Aliyev had agreed to the proposal, but the peacekeepers should not be deployed within the NKAO borders, but across the actual line of contact. The Armenian side should also have undertaken to allow the Azerbaijanis to return to Shushi.
“I am convinced that if I agreed to hand over Shushi, Azerbaijan would set a new condition – the Red Market-Shushi highway would be under their control,” the RA Prime Minister wrote, adding that thus the ceasefire became impossible.
It turns out that there was an opportunity to stop the war, but, according to Pashinyan, it was not a favorable or acceptable option for Armenia.
April 14, 2021
During the presentation of the 2020 annual report on the implementation and results of the government program in the parliament, Nikol Pashinyan again referred to the possibility of the October 19 ceasefire. He repeated almost the same thoughts, perhaps the only news being that he had told the Russian President that Armenia would have no objection to the return of the Azerbaijanis to Shushi, “if we somehow connect the issue with the process of clarifying the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.” According to the Prime Minister, Azerbaijan demanded that the return of the deportees, including Shushi, not be linked to the status.
April 14, 2022
The same day the next year, from the same tribune, Nikol Pashinyan, responding to the criticism as to why they did not prevent or stop the war, answered that it was impossible to stop or prevent a war without Shushi.
Summing up, Nikol Pashinyan himself spoke about the possibility of stopping the war on October 19, 2020, emphasizing that this opportunity was unacceptable for the Armenian side. In this respect, Vahagn Khachaturyan’s alleged statement does not contradict the words of the Prime Minister.