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Moscow Eyes ‘Concrete Steps’ To Stop Karabakh Fighting


RUSSIA -- Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a meeting with the Association of European Businesses in Moscow, October 5, 2020

International mediators should try to work out “concrete steps” that could stop the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

Lavrov announced that he and his French and U.S. counterparts are set to issue a joint statement calling for an immediate halt to the continuing hostilities along the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” around Karabakh.

“But we should think not only about statements but also concrete steps that could be taken to stop the bloodshed and put the situation back on the path of negotiations,” Russian news agencies quoted him as saying.

Lavrov did not say what those steps could be. He said he discussed the issue with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in a phone call earlier in the day.

The U.S., France and Russia co-head the OSCE Minsk Group that has long been trying to broker a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict. In a joint statement issued last week, the presidents of the three mediating countries called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in a joint statement. They also urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to “commit without delay to resuming substantive negotiations.”

Yerevan welcomed the statement, saying it is willing to engage in peace talks mediated by the Minsk Group co-chairs.

By contrast, Azerbaijan effectively rejected the mediators’ appeal. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was reported to say on Monday that the mediators must give Baku guarantees on the “withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijan’s occupied territories.”

Lavrov has repeatedly spoken with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts over the past week. Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin has had three phone conversations with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian since September 27. But he has still not spoken with Azerbaijani Aliyev or Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Putin does not yet have “clear-cut plans” to contact Aliyev or Erdogan. “But we are talking about a war, and, of course, the situation in Karabakh is developing rapidly,” Peskov told reporters in Moscow. “So it’s hard to make forecasts on this.”

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