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Armenia Says In Touch With Russian Military On Azeri Border Clashes


Armenia - Soldiers at a military base in Tavush province, October 30, 2018.

The Armenian and Russia militaries have communicated with each other in connection with deadly clashes that broke out on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan on July 12, official Yerevan said on Monday.

The hostilities, which left at least 12 Azerbaijani and 4 Armenian soldiers dead, largely ground to a halt on July 16. The two conflicting sides have reported no serious ceasefire violations along the heavily fortified border since then. Each side continued on Monday to accuse the other of sporadically shooting small arms at various sections of the frontier, including the scene of last week’s fighting.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Anna Naghdalian, said the American, French and especially Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have been “actively involved” in efforts to restore the ceasefire in Armenia’s Tavush province bordering the Tovuz district in western Azerbaijan.

“The Armenian foreign minister [Zohrab Mnatsakanian] has been in constant contact with his Russian counterpart,” Naghdalian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “There have also been contacts at the level of military officials of the two countries”

Naghdalian did not give details of the Russian-Armenian military contacts.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani militaries established a new direct channel of communication after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev agreed in 2018 to boost the ceasefire regime along the internationally recognized border between their countries and “the line of contact” around Karabakh. Truce violations there decreased significantly as a result.

Yerevan and Baku blame each other for the July 12 flare-up which marked the worst escalation of the conflict since 2016. They also accuse one another of dealing a severe blow to the Karabakh peace process mediated by the Minsk Group co-chairs.

Aliyev on Thursday again threatened to withdraw from peace talks with Armenia, saying that they have been “meaningless” so far. He said the U.S., Russian and French mediators should do more to make the talks “substantive” in addition to trying to prevent violence.

In a weekend interview with the Sky News Arabia TV channel, Mnatsakanian said that last week’s hostilities demonstrated that “there can be no military solution to the conflict” and that continued negotiations are the only viable option.

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