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Moscow Offers To Facilitate Armenian-Azeri Border Demarcation (UPDATED)


AZERBAIJAN -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a joint news conference with Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov following their meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan May 11, 2021.

Russia offered on Wednesday to help Armenia and Azerbaijan demarcate their border some portions of which have been the scene of a military standoff over the past week.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow has proposed that the two sides set up a commission on the delimitation and demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and expressed readiness to participate in its activities as a “consultant or mediator.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the idea with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev in a phone call reported later in the day.

“The Russian side will continue its mediation efforts and consultative support aimed at achieving an agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the launch of a process of delimitation and demarcation of their state border,” the Kremlin said in a statement on the conversation.

The secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, Armen Grigorian, confirmed the Russian proposal, saying that it was formally conveyed to Yerevan on Tuesday.

“In response to it, the Armenian side has stressed the need for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani forces from Armenia’s sovereign territory before the launch of such work,” Grigorian told the Armenpress news agency. “Only after that would conditions be created for such discussions.”

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian made similar comments on the issue at a meeting in Yerevan before talking to Putin by phone in the evening. Pashinian’s office said the two men agreed on the “ways and methodology of resolving the crisis.” It did not elaborate.

Armenia maintains that Azerbaijani troops advanced several kilometers into its Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces last week. Azerbaijan denies that, saying its forces simply took up new positions on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier.

Yerevan has condemned the Azerbaijani troop movements as a violation of its territorial integrity and asked Russia and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for military support.

Lavrov did not comment on the possibility of such aid when he spoke in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe ahead of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the CSTO member states. He told reporters that they already discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani border standoff and “the request of our Armenian colleagues” at an informal meeting held late on Tuesday.

Russian military officials participated in a series of Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations held on the border last week.

According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, the talks did not resume as planned on Wednesday afternoon because Azerbaijani military officials did not show up.

In another statement issued in the morning, the ministry said it still hopes for a negotiated solution to the dispute. It again warned that if this does not happen “within a reasonable timeframe” Yerevan will reserve the right to remove the Azerbaijani troops from Armenian territory by force.

Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian likewise warned of “unpredictable consequences” of the standoff when he spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu by phone on Monday. By contrast, Lavrov seemed to downplay the gravity of the border crisis, saying in Moscow that he sees no need to “whip up emotions on this issue.”

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