That gives an opening to Russia, one of three countries (along with the US and France) charged with keeping negotiations afloat between Baku and Yerevan. Russian President Vladimir Putin this week will meet in Sochi separately with Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Serzh Sargsyan, Moscow has announced. A chat which, “when they all appear in the same place and at the same time,” doubtlessly will get down to Karabakh, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the ITAR-TASS news agency.
As have the US and EU, Moscow has called for restraint. And — wink-wink — underscored the need for cooperation with the West to keep Armenia and Azerbaijan from coming to still more deadly blows.
“For many years, we have seen periodic flare-ups, but this time [the topic] is being perceived and will be taken up particularly strongly,” Lavrov commented.
The dates for these chats have been set for August 8-9, Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian told reporters, according to RFE/RL.
Others, throughout the South Caucasus, believe that Moscow prefers the status-quo in Karabakh since it keeps Armenia and Azerbaijan off-balance with one another, and solicitous for Russian influence.
Arguably, with eastern Ukraine boiling over and the international repercussions for Russia's role there increasingly harsh, hanging on to the Karabakh status-quo could now have other attractions as well for the Kremlin. After all, one separatist-themed war at a time is more than enough.