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Russia In Fresh Crisis Talks With Armenia, Azerbaijan


NAGORN-KARABAKH -- A serviceman of Karabakh's Defence Army fires an artillery piece towards Azeri positions, September 28, 2020

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov again spoke with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts by phone on Wednesday as Moscow kept pressing for a halt to fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh that raged for a fourth day.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that during his separate phone calls with Armenia’s Zohrab Mnatsakanian and Azerbaijan’s Jeyhun Bayramov, Lavrov urged the two sides to immediately cease fire and resume negotiations as soon as possible. He also reaffirmed his readiness to host a trilateral meeting of the ministers in Moscow.

Lavrov already called Mnatsakanian and Bayramov hours after the outbreak on Sunday of the worst hostilities in the Karabakh conflict zone since 1994.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said, meanwhile, that Baku will halt the hostilities involving tens of thousands of troops and many tanks and artillery systems if Armenia agrees to “unconditionally, fully and immediately leave our lands.”

“This condition remains in force, and if Armenia’s government fulfills it the hostilities will stop … and peace will come to our region,” Aliyev said during a visit to a military hospital in Baku.

AZERBAIJAN -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban visit the Central Military Clinical Hospital of the Defense Ministry to meet with Azeri service members, who were wounded during clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh.
AZERBAIJAN -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban visit the Central Military Clinical Hospital of the Defense Ministry to meet with Azeri service members, who were wounded during clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinian said on Tuesday that Baku has failed to achieve its military objectives in Karabakh. “I hope this will make Azerbaijan realize that there is no military solution to this conflict,” he told a Russian TV channel.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Mnatsakanian discussed with Lavrov “Turkey’s direct military-political involvement” in the continuing fighting along the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” in Karabakh.

Mnatsakanian also reiterated Armenian concerns about the reported deployment in Azerbaijan of Turkish-backed mercenaries from Syria. The Azerbaijani army denies the presence of such fighters within its ranks.

ARMENIA -- An ethnic Armenian soldier, who was wounded in fighting with Azeri forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, is carried on a stretcher after being transported by a helicopter to Erebouni Medical Center in Yerevan, September 29, 2020.
ARMENIA -- An ethnic Armenian soldier, who was wounded in fighting with Azeri forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, is carried on a stretcher after being transported by a helicopter to Erebouni Medical Center in Yerevan, September 29, 2020.

The Armenian military claimed throughout the day that F-16 fighter jets and combat drones of the Turkish Air Force joined Azerbaijani warplanes in striking civilian and military targets across Karabakh. Karabakh officials said three civilian residents of the northern Karabakh town of Martakert were killed in one of those air strikes.

Both Ankara and Baku deny any Turkish involvement in the Azerbaijani military operations. Aliyev on Wednesday thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his “resolute and brotherly stance” and “tough statements” in support of Azerbaijan.

Commenting on the Turkish role in the escalation of the Karabakh conflict, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian military officials are “very closely monitoring developments” and “meticulously analyzing all information” coming from on the frontlines.

“We disagree with them [the Turks,]” Russian news agencies quoted Peskov as saying. “As I said yesterday, one must not add fuel to the fire.”

NAGORNO KARABAKH -- A still image released 29 September by the Armenian Defense Ministry shows an explosion during military clashes along the Line of Contact around Karabakh.
NAGORNO KARABAKH -- A still image released 29 September by the Armenian Defense Ministry shows an explosion during military clashes along the Line of Contact around Karabakh.

The United States, France and other Western powers have also been trying to stop the Karabakh war.

U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien phoned Erdogan’s top aide, Ibrahim Kalin, as part of those efforts. The White House told RFE/RL that O’Brien stressed the importance of restoring the ceasefire regime in Karabakh and restarting Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations mediated by the U.S., Russia and France.

According to Erdogan’s office, Kalin made clear that Ankara will continue to strongly support Azerbaijan and press Armenia to “pull its troops out of the occupied territories.”

“There is no military solution to this dispute,” O’Brien tweeted on Monday. “This violence must stop now, before more lives are unnecessarily lost.”

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