Russian Foreign Minister offered to host talks on the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia to settle the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russian foreign office confirms the offer made by foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in telephonic conversation to the leaders of both governments. He had urged a halt to “warlike rhetoric”.
On Wednesday, Mr Lavrov’s office claimed that he had been in contact with the foreign ministers of both Armenia and Azerbaijan and offered them Russia’s willingness to host talks.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the conflict with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in a separate telephone call. Both leaders emphasized efforts for an immediate ceasefire.
Russia is in good relation with both Azerbaijan and Armenia. Russia as part of a military alliance with Armenia has a military base in the country. However, it also has close ties to the government of Azerbaijan.
Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh
Though Armenia backs the self-declared republic of Nagorno-Karabakh until now there is no official recognition from Armenia.
Officially part of Azerbaijan, it is governed by ethnic Armenians. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan had been Soviet republics. Both fought a war in 1988-1994 over the same region. Both the countries have international allies so there are growing fears that international powers could be dragged into the conflict.
The triggering element in the recent fight is not clear yet. It is perceived that Armenian aggression caused the war-like situation. On Wednesday, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev vowed to fight on until Armenian forces left the territory.
“We only have one condition: Armenian armed forces must unconditionally, fully, and immediately leave our lands,” he said.
More than 100 casualties have been reported since Sunday, and this fight is considered as the heaviest fighting since 1994 over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan broadcasted video of the destruction of two Armenian tanks and said an Armenian battalion had fled the area around the village of Tonashen.
Armenian media claimed three civilians killed in an Azerbaijani air attack on the town of Martakert on Wednesday. Whereas numbers are quite higher according to State news agency Armenpress which claims seven civilians and 80 service personnel had been killed since the fighting began.
Armenia’s defence ministry released a picture of an Armenian SU-25 jet and blamed Turkey that Armenian jet had been shot down by a Turkish F-16 on Tuesday. Turkey rejected the allegation as “cheap propaganda”.
The current conflict has already raised tensions between France and Turkey. France is home to many people of Armenian ancestry while Turkey has traditionally supported its fellow Turkic nation Azerbaijan.
Türkiye'nin her zaman Azerbaycan'ın yanında olduğunu güçlü bir şekilde teyit eden bu ortak bildiride imzası olan siyasi partilerimize şahsım ve Milletimiz adına teşekkür ediyor, Gazi Meclisimizi bu asil ve güçlü duruşundan dolayı gönülden tebrik ediyorum. https://t.co/HpQ6ngheQp
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) September 28, 2020
On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused France of supporting Armenian aggression and occupation in Azerbaijan.
Mr Macron hit back, criticising “warlike messages” from Turkey “.
After Mr Macron and Mr Putin held talks, the Kremlin issued a statement saying they had discussed future steps that the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) could take to help resolve the conflict.
The Minsk Group was set up in 1992 and is chaired by France, Russia and the US.