01/15/2021 Russia (International Christian Concern) – This week, the prime ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the peace agreement between the two countries following their brief war last fall. Although Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed optimism about the compliance with the peace agreement signed in November, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expressed his concern regarding several unresolved issues that remain for Armenia.
The issue at the forefront of many Armenians’ minds is the continued detention of Armenian soldiers captured by Azerbaijan during the war. Despite requests from the European Court of Human Rights, Azerbaijan has not released the identities nor information on the quantity of Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) that it still holds. Additionally, there is mounting evidence that Azerbaijani soldiers have abused and tortured Armenian POWs, in direct violation of international law.
The continued detention and reported abuse of Armenian POWs speaks to the deep hatred that is present throughout this conflict. The oldest Christian nation of Armenia has long been threatened by Turkish aggression. Dating back to the takeover of the Ottoman Empire, ethnic Armenians have been continually targeted by the rise of Islamic Turkish nationalism in the region. The Turkish-backed attack on Armenia in September and the brutality that followed are a manifestation of this long history of animosity towards ethnic Armenian Christians.
As part of the peace agreement, Russia has served as the peacekeeper between the two sides, overseeing the implementation of the agreement. 2,000 Russian troops have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) to ensure that hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan do not start back up. It is expected that Russian presence in the Caucasus will continue to grow, potentially countering the presence of Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan.
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