Amid relative calm, Russia urges full cessation of hostilities in Karabakh

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterpart to ensure “full cessation of hostilities and observance of the truce regime” as he had separate telephone conversations with the South Caucasus leaders on Tuesday.

The Kremlin reported about the calls to President Serzh Sargsyan, of Armenia, and President Ilham Aliyev, of Azerbaijan, that took place on Putin’s initiative as the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides agreed to halt military hostilities that raged in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone since April 2, killing more than three dozen troops and civilians on both sides.

During the conversations the Russian leader reportedly expressed serious concern over the large-scale armed clashes that led to numerous victims. “It was pointed out that Russia has conducted and will conduct the necessary mediatory steps aimed at promoting the normalization of the situation,” the Russian president’s press service said. “Stressed was the importance of the resumption of the negotiation process between Yerevan and Baku with the assistance with the OSCE Minsk Group with the aim of a further search of ways of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. It was agreed to continue contacts in different formats.”

Along with the United States and France, Russia co-chairs the OSCE Minsk Group that met in Vienna, Austria, earlier today to discuss the latest escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Representatives of the Group countries (the Russian Federation, the United States of America, France, Belarus, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey), as well as the incoming Austrian OSCE Chair (2017) and the Serbian OSCE Chair (2015), strongly condemned the outbreak of “unprecedented violence” along the Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, extending condolences to all affected families.

“We urge the sides to cease using force immediately. There is no military solution to the conflict,” the OSCE Minsk Group emphasized, according to the OSCE’s official website. “The deterioration of the situation on the ground demonstrates the need for an immediate negotiation, under the auspices of the Co-chairs, on a comprehensive settlement. The representatives of the Minsk Group member states affirm their support for the Russian, American, and French Co-Chairs’ mediation efforts and welcome their plans to undertake direct consultations with the sides as soon as possible.”

The three co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group are due to visit the region later this week.