Armenia and Azerbaijan should return to the negotiating table, Moscow insists, amid a flare-up in the disputed region
The recent flare-up in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has already led to casualties, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, expressing sympathies to the relatives of those killed during the latest spike in tensions between local militias supported by Armenia or Azerbaijan.
The ministry also expressed its "deep concern" over the developments and said that the Russian peacekeeping force is "making every effort" to stabilize the situation on the ground. Russia is also engaged in "active" diplomatic work with both Armenia and Azerbaijan "at all levels," including the heads of states, the ministry said in a statement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is currently in "close contact with his Azerbaijani and Armenian colleagues," it added.
Moscow called on Baku and Yerevan to "exercise restraint" and urged them to resolve all their differences through "political and diplomatic means" in accordance with the 2020 ceasefire agreement, which was at that time also mediated by Russia. Both sides of the conflict should focus on "forming a positive agenda" while using the existing trilateral negotiating formats, the ministry added.
The statement came amid the latest flare-up in the disputed region. Tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh have been running high since the beginning of the week, with Baku and Yerevan accusing each other of military provocations. On Wednesday, Azerbaijan conducted what it called a military operation launched 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. Each side also confirmed casualties resulting from clashes and shelling that have taken place since the beginning of the week.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan. Yet, the region has a mostly Armenian population and sought independence from Baku in the 1990s. It has been de-facto self-governed and has enjoyed support from Armenia since then.
In 2020, Baku and Yerevan fought a 44-day-long war over the disputed region, which ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire that saw Russian peacekeepers deploy to Nagorno-Karabakh.