Russia's Putin discusses Karabakh crisis with Armenian PM -agencies

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during a meeting in Saint Petersburg

(Reuters) -Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday and discussed the crisis over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian agencies said.

The Kremlin confirmed the conversation but gave fewer details, saying the two leaders had talked about the situation along the Azeri-Armenian border.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but its 120,000 inhabitants are predominantly ethnic Armenians. A 2020 war between ex-Soviet neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan was ended by a Moscow-brokered truce and the dispatch of Russian peacekeepers to the region.

Last December, Azerbaijani civilians identifying themselves as environmental activists began blocking the Lachin corridor, the only remaining road connecting the territory to Armenia.

"(Putin and Pashinyan) discussed the humanitarian, environmental and energy crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh caused by Azerbaijan's illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor," Russian agencies cited the Armenian government press service as saying.

"The Armenian prime minister stated the importance of Russia taking necessary steps to overcome it."

Armenia wants Putin to take a tougher line with Baku and use Russian peacekeepers to end the standoff. Azerbaijan denies it is blockading the enclave.

The Kremlin said the two leaders had talked about how to implement a number of existing deals between Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan designed to bring about a permanent peace.

"The current situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border was also touched upon," it said in a statement.

Last week Putin talked to Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev and noted the importance of ensuring stability and security in the southern Caucasus region.

The World Court ordered Azerbaijan on Wednesday to ensure free movement through the Lachin corridor.

Earlier on Thursday, Interfax cited Pashinyan as telling an Armenian government meeting that "Azerbaijan must take visible measures to open the Lachin corridor".

(Reporting by David LjunggrenEditing by Bernadette Baum and Alistair Bell)