Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanian in Moscow amid continuing fierce fighting along the Karabakh “line of contact.” The talks came less than three days after their trilateral meeting in Moscow with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov that resulted in the truce agreement.
“We expect that the adopted decisions will be implemented by both sides rigorously,” Lavrov told a joint news conference with Mnatsakanian held after the talks. “We talked about that today in detail.”
“I think that our joint overnight work, which resulted in a very important document, was not in vain and we will after all manage to change situation on the ground very soon. At least we are interested in that as, I think, are the conflicting parties.”
Lavrov indicated at the start of his talks with Mnatsakanian that the Russian Defense Ministry is also involved in efforts to halt the hostilities.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, stressed separately that compliance with the Moscow agreement is “extremely important.” Moscow is “very attentively monitoring the situation,” Peskov said, commenting on the truce violations reported by both warring sides.
Mnatsakanian accused Azerbaijan of continuing its “large-scale aggression” against Karabakh and using mercenaries sent by Turkey. “Today we must stop the hostilities. Russia’s role in this endeavor is highly important,” he said after the talks with Lavrov.
In their joint statement issued early on Saturday, the chief Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats also said that Yerevan and Baku are “launching substantive talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to reach a peace deal as soon as possible on the basis of core settlement principles.”
Lavrov said that he and Mnatsakanian discussed this as well. “It doesn’t mean that all issues will be resolved quickly and simultaneously,” he said. “We understand that there needs to be a process. But we think it’s wrong to delay a political negotiating process.”
Lavrov added that Mnatsakanian and the Russian, French and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will talk about “how to move forward” when they meet in Moscow later on Monday.
“Only after the full establishment of a ceasefire regime can we effectively move forward on all issues,” the Armenian minister said, for his part. He also called for “verification mechanisms” to be put in place for assessing the parties’ compliance with the truce.