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Russia Urges End To Karabakh Fighting


RUSSIA -- A view of the Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow, April 6, 2018

Russia called for an immediate end to heavy fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh that broke out early on Sunday.

“We call on the parties [to the Karabakh conflict] to immediately cease fire and start negotiations to stabilize the situation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued a few hours after the outbreak of the large-scale hostilities.

The statement did not blame the Armenian or Azerbaijani sides for the escalation, noting only “intensive shelling from both sides along the Line of Contact” east and north of Karabakh.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was reported to express serious concern over the hostilities in a phone call with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanian. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov will speak with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov shortly.

According to a separate ministry statement, Lavrov also telephoned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss the worst escalation of the Karabakh conflict in years. He “stressed the need for a quick end to the fighting,” said the statement.

Turkey blamed Armenia for the latest hostilities in line with its unconditional support for Azerbaijan. It has stepped up that support in recent months, pledging greater military assistance to Baku. Yerevan has accused Ankara of heightening tensions in the conflict zone.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said earlier in the day that Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian is “in touch” with the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group. It did not give details.

For his part, Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan telephoned Andrzej Kasprzyk, the head of a small OSCE mission monitoring the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone, to brief him on the situation on the ground.

“We strongly condemn the use of force and regret the senseless loss of life, including civilians,” the Minsk Group co-chairs said in a joint statement issued in the afternoon. “The Co-Chairs appeal to the sides to cease hostilities immediately and to resume negotiations to find a sustainable resolution of the conflict.”

As recently as on September 14, the co-chairs met in Paris and urged Baku and Yerevan to prepare the ground for resuming peace talks.

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