MOSCOW ( Associated Press) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will host the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to try to negotiate a resolution to the conflict between the two neighbors, the Kremlin said on Friday.
The talks reflect an attempt by Moscow to increase its influence in the region amid growing mediation efforts by the United States.
Putin’s talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev were scheduled for Monday at Putin’s Black Sea residence in Sochi.
The Kremlin said the leaders would discuss the implementation of the Russia-broker 2020 peace deal and “further steps to strengthen stability and security in the Caucasus”, adding that “the restoration and development of commercial, economic and transport ties will help There will also be related issues. to be discussed”.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are locked in a decades-long conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is inside Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan since the separatist war that ended in 1994.
In a six-week war in 2020, Azerbaijan captured vast swathes of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been occupied by Armenian forces for decades. More than 6,700 people died in the fighting, which ended in a Russian-sponsored peace settlement. Moscow has deployed some 2,000 troops to the region as a peacekeeping force.
A new round of hostilities broke out in September, when over 200 soldiers from both sides were killed in two days of heavy fighting. Armenia and Azerbaijan held each other responsible for the renewed violence.
Russia is Armenia’s main ally. It maintains a military base in the country, but also maintains close ties with Azerbaijan.
After the latest fighting, some Armenian officials have expressed disappointment that Russia has not taken more decisive steps to help protect the interests of Armenia, which is a member of a multi-nation, former Soviet security coalition.