Russia’s FM Lavrov calls to lower tensions in Karabakh

MOSCOW (AFP): Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday called for de-escalation in Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh, a region which has sparked two wars between the Caucasus neighbours.


“We need to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible,” Lavrov told reporters following talks with Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in Moscow.


According to Lavrov, Armenia’s representatives were expected at the talks but pulled out at the “last moment”.


For more than a week Azerbaijani activists have blocked the only land link connecting Karabakh to Armenia, the Lachin corridor, to protest what they claim is illegal mining.


Yerevan has accused Baku of staging demonstrations and creating a humanitarian crisis in the mountainous enclave.


Lavrov said he was hoping for movement along the key road to be restored “as soon as possible.”


Armenia also said Russian peacekeepers deployed in the region were failing to prevent the blockade.


Lavrov, however, said the Russian peacekeeping contingent was “clearly fulfilling its tasks” while working in “very difficult conditions”.


Armenia’s parliament has said Karabakh was suffering from shortages of food, medicine and fuel following the closure of the corridor.


Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six-week war in autumn 2020.


The fighting claimed more than 6,500 lives and ended with a Russian-brokered truce that saw Yerevan cede territories it had controlled for decades.


Moscow stationed peacekeepers in parts of Karabakh that remained under Armenian separatist control, including the Lachin corridor.


When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. The ensuing conflict claimed around 30,000 lives.