YEREVAN, July 7. /TASS/. The return of Armenian citizens held as a result of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and the incident on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border is a priority issue for the Russian leadership, Russian Ambassador to Armenia Sergey Kopyrkin told reporters on Wednesday.
"I can say that this issue is one the priorities for the Russian leadership, and the command of the peacekeeping force (in Nagorno-Karabakh - TASS). Our position is well known, it was expressed initially that there should be an ‘all for all’ exchange, but we will tackle the issue in a practical way. I repeat that it remains among the top priorities, and work on it will continue," he noted.
On July 3, Azerbaijan handed over 15 Armenian citizens in exchange for maps of the minefields in the Fuzuli and Zangilan districts adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh after Russia’s mediation.
Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, 2020, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On November 9, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to the document, the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides stopped at the positions that they had maintained, and Russian peacekeepers were deployed along the engagement line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin Corridor that connects Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement also provides for an "all for all" prisoner swap.
Armenia is seeking the return of all the individuals detained by Azerbaijan. Yerevan has stressed on numerous occasions that this is a priority issue in the discussion of a further settlement in the region. Baku argues that all Armenian citizens, who were captured during the hostilities last year, have been released, and those, who are still held, are "terrorists and saboteurs".