Russia urges Azerbaijan, Armenia to return to negotiating table

Russia urges Azerbaijan, Armenia to return to negotiating table

In the disputed region, Armenia and Azerbaijan should return to the negotiating table, Moscow insists.

The recent flare-up in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has already resulted in casualties, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. It expressed sympathies to the relatives of those killed during the latest spike in tensions between local militias supported by Armenia or Azerbaijan.

The ministry expressed its deep concern about the developments and said that the Russian peacekeeping force is making every effort to stabilize the situation on the ground. Russia is involved in active diplomatic work with both Armenia and Azerbaijan at all levels, including the heads of state, the ministry said in a statement. It added that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in close contact with his Armenian and Azerbaijani colleagues.

Moscow called on Baku and Yerevan to exercise restraint and urged them to resolve their differences through political and diplomatic means in accordance with the 2020 ceasefire agreement, which was also mediated by Russia at the time. The ministry added that both sides of the conflict should focus on forming a positive agenda while using existing trilateral negotiating formats.

The statement came amid the latest flare-up in the disputed region. Tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh have been high since the beginning of the week, with Baku and Yerevan accusing each other of military provocations. Azerbaijan conducted a military operation on Wednesday in response to the gross ceasefire violations by the local militias. Baku also demanded demilitarization of the region.

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of demanding that Yerevan stop using the so-called Lachin Corridor linking it to Nagorno-Karabakh and to choose a different route, something it said violates the 2020 ceasefire deal. The sides have confirmed casualties resulting from clashes and shelling that took place since the beginning of the week.

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as a part of Azerbaijan. The region has a mostly Armenian population and sought independence from Baku in the 1990s and has enjoyed support from Armenia since then.

In 2020, Baku and Yerevan fought a 44 day long war over the region, which ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire that saw Russian peacekeepers deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh.