MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Wednesday for hostilities to stop in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, saying fighting between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces was a tragedy.
Putin said Moscow was deeply concerned by the developments over the mountain enclave, which under international law belongs to Azerbaijan but is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.
"This (fighting) is a tragedy. We are very concerned," Putin said in a televised interview. "We hope that this conflict will end in the very near future."
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh led to a 1991-94 war in which about 30,000 people were killed. The renewed fighting since Sept. 27 is the deadliest in more than 25 years.
Russia has, with the United States and France, led mediation in the conflict but the warring sides have not heeded their ceasefire calls.
Russia also has a defence pact with Armenia, where Russian troops and warplanes are stationed, but that agreement does not apply to Nagorno-Karabakh.
"The hostilities, to our great regret, continue to this day and are not being carried out on the territory of Armenia," Putin said. "As for Russia's fulfilment of its treaty obligations... we have always fulfilled, are fulfilling and will fulfil our obligations."
Putin added that he was in constant contact with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan about the conflict.
Russia's foreign intelligence chief warned on Tuesday that the region could become a launch pad for Islamist militants to enter Russia.
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Alison Williams and Timothy Heritage)