Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed a “whole host of reasons,” primarily the “unresolved” Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for the resumption of tensions last month between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In an interview published Friday in the Russian Trud newspaper, Lavrov explained that since since the 1994 ceasefire agreement, last month border tensions were the second largest “violation” of the cease fire, after the April 2016 War, when Azerbaijan launched a large-scale military attack on all directions of the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border, also known as the line of contact.
“For the first time in the past 26 years, high-intensity clashes using field artillery, mortars and attack drones took place not on the line of contact in Karabakh, but directly on the state border between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Lavrov told Trud.
“A whole host of reasons led to the conflict,” said Lavorv. “The basis, of course, is the unresolved Karabakh problem.”
Russia’s top diplomat said that Russia is doing its utmost to resume the Karabakh conflict settlement process, saying that as soon as the border escalation began in July he held telephone conversations with his counterparts in Armenia and Azerbaijan and urged to immediately halt the military operations. He told Trud that he also met with representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in Russia and urged them to follow all Russian laws and help “create an atmosphere conducive to the normalization of relations between Baku and Yerevan.”
“The Russian Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Igor Popov was in direct contact with the foreign ministers of the two countries. As a result, with active Russian mediation, a ceasefire was reached, albeit not on the first attempt, on July 16,” Lavrov told Trud, in reference to Russian efforts to quell the hostilities on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border when Azerbaijani forces attacked civilian and military targets in Armenia’s Tavush Province beginning on July 12.
He also attributed the “overwhelming public sentiments on both sides of the border” for the resumption of clashes.
However, it was Lavrov’s inclusion “geographic” factors triggering the tensions that raises concerns of his assessment of the situation.
“The decision by Armenia to revive an old border checkpoint located 15 kilometers (approximately nine miles) from Azerbaijan’s [gas] pipelines that caused heightened concern for one side, and an unjustified response for the other side, as a result of which a confrontation arose with the most unpredictable consequences,” Lavrov told Trud.