Russia to monitor ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh
According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the ceasefire control mechanism in Nagorno-Karabakh should function along the line of contact of Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the region.
Lavrov said that Russia does not exclude the possibility that its military observers may be included in the ceasefire control mechanism in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Today it’s not even the peacekeepers [who should participate in the verification mechanism] but the military observers, this should be enough. We think that it will be absolutely correct if these were our military observers but the final word should belong to the sides [of the conflict]. Without a doubt, we go on a premise that both Yerevan and Baku will take into account our alliance, our relations of strategic partnership,” he noted.
According to the top diplomat, the ceasefire control mechanism should function along the line of contact of Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russian President Vladimir Putin followed the negotiations of the foreign ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh situation and made his contribution at the discussion’s decisive moment, Lavrov said.
“The talks were unique but let me note that the president made his contribution at the decisive moment,” Russia’s top diplomat said. “He controlled our night vigilance and we talked with him twice already deep in the night.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also joined the process, Lavrov added.
“It was important to agree on the issue that the declaration of the truce would apparently not quite suffice, unless the ceasefire control mechanism was in place,” he explained, noting that this was stipulated in the document adopted following the results of the talks.
“Over the past few days, I have had contacts with my counterparts in Baku and Yerevan several times and the same has been done by Sergei Shoigu who has talked with the defense ministers,” Lavrov said. “And the president also talked with the leaders of the conflicting parties.”
“It is necessary to immediately hold a meeting of the militaries to agree the ceasefire control mechanism, which is mentioned in our document and which no one has even started to discuss,” Russia’s top diplomat said.
“I reconfirmed the corresponding signals literally half an hour ago when Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bairamov called me on the phone. We are sending the same signal to our Armenian colleagues. I believe this is now the key to a sustainable cessation of the fire that affects civil facilities and civilians,” Lavrov said.
Following the consultations on the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh held in Moscow on Russia’s initiative on October 9, Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed on a humanitarian ceasefire to start at 12:00 p.m. on October 10 to exchange prisoners and bodies of those killed in the conflict. However, both sides accuse each other of breaching the truce.
Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The area experienced flare-ups of violence in the summer of 2014, in April 2016 and this past July. Azerbaijan and Armenia have imposed martial law and launched mobilization efforts. Both parties to the conflict have reported casualties, among them civilians.
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them.
Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs – Russia, France and the United States.
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America) called on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to take immediate steps to execute in full the obligations of the sides according to the October 10 Moscow statement, in order to prevent catastrophic consequences for the region.
The Co-Chairs reiterate that civilian casualties are unacceptable under any circumstances. The Co-Chairs call on the sides to implement the humanitarian ceasefire immediately to allow the return of remains, prisoners of war, and detainees, and appeal to the sides to agree urgently upon a ceasefire verification mechanism.
Following conversations with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, the Co-Chairs are working with the sides on the substantive issues of the Nagorno-Karabakh political settlement process in order to reach a negotiated solution.