Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has just issued a dire warning to its neighbor Russia, saying war could break out at “any moment” unless a resolution to the ongoing fight over the Caucuses is negotiated.
A Russian-brokered truce may not be enough to prevent fighting “on an even larger scale” after four days of war between Azeris and Armenians this month that involved “several hundred tanks” and 30,000 artillery rounds, Serzh Sargsyan said in an interview Saturday at the presidential residence in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.
It’s “unreasonable” for Armenia to resume peace talks with Azerbaijan over the disputed territory without security guarantees because “the situation is entirely different now,” he said. “On the one hand we’d be talking somewhere while, on the other, military officials would be engaging in war here to try to settle the conflict,” he said.
The clashes in early April were the worst since a cease-fire 22 years ago halted a war that claimed 30,000 lives and created 1 million refugees. Armenians took over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan in the 1991-1994 war. International mediators have failed to negotiate a lasting peace since then in a conflict that threatens to destabilize a region flanked by Russia, Turkey and Iran, while also potentially disrupting a new energy corridor between central Asia and Europe.
About 100 Armenian soldiers and civilians died in the latest fighting, while Azerbaijan said it lost 32 troops. Amid intense international diplomacy to avert war, Sargsyan met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Yerevan on Friday. Lavrov told Azeri President Ilham Aliyev at talks in Baku on April 6 that Russia has “proposals” for resolving the conflict.
Lavrov didn’t “bring any new proposals” because “he realizes very well that it doesn’t make sense to talk about negotiations immediately after a four-day war,” Sargsyan said. Battles raged along the full 200-kilometer (124 miles) length of the front line as Azerbaijan tried to punch through to Nagorno-Karabakh itself and then “issue an ultimatum” to the Armenian-held enclave, he said.
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