Aliyev Urges Russia to Stay Neutral In Karabakh Conflict

Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev
Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev

Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev

YEREVAN (—Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has called on Russia to maintain neutrality in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh given its status as an international mediator.

According to Interfax-Azerbaijan, while receiving in Baku Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States Baghdad Amreyeev on Monday, Aliyev said: “The prime minister of Armenia has sent a letter to the president of the Russian Federation, asking for military support. This is completely unacceptable. And there are absolutely no grounds for that, because we are conducting actions in our territory, we are defeating the enemy in our lands, freeing them from the Armenian occupation, while we do not attack the territory of Armenia.”

Aliyev went on to say that as a co-chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group Russia is supposed to maintain a neutral position on this issue, which he said is stipulated by the mandate of the OSCE, whose Minsk Group co-chairmanship also includes the United States and France.

On October 31, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which, invoking a 1997 treaty with Russia, he formally asked Moscow “to define types and amount of assistance” that it can provide to Armenia. Pashinyan said that the fighting between ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan that broke out on September 27 was approaching the country’s borders and that some encroachments on the territory of the Republic of Armenia have already taken place.

In response to the letter the same day, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed Moscow’s commitment to Armenia under the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, saying that “Russia will render all necessary assistance to Yerevan if military operations take place directly on the territory of Armenia.”

At the same time, the Russian ministry again called on the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to halt military operations immediately, deescalate the situation and return to “substantive negotiations” to achieve a peaceful settlement.

Earlier, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan also signaled Yerevan’s agreement to the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, but said that such a move would require the consent of all parties to the conflict.

Last week, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that he believes that Scandinavian peacekeepers should be deployed in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

Meetings with members of the Armenian community of Los Angeles on Friday, October 30, O’Brien said any armed peacekeeping force in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone should not include Minsk Group co-chairs, including the United States, or neighboring countries.

“Any sort of Turkish mediation or peacekeeping role is a non-starter for the United States, as well as for Armenia,” O’Brien said.

“We believe that both countries should accept Scandinavian peacekeepers, and we are working with Scandinavian governments to put together a peacekeeping force that could be deployed into the region to keep the ceasefire,” the senior U.S. official added.

Commenting on O’Brien’s statement on Monday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said that issues like this should be coordinated with the parties to the conflict.

“You should ask the Americans where they got these proposals and ideas from. All the necessary parameters of possible mechanisms should be agreed upon in consultations with the parties to the conflict,” the Russian diplomat said when asked by journalists to comment on O’Brien’s remarks.
Officials in Yerevan and Baku have not yet commented on O’Brien’s statement.


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