Moscow, once again, urged a delay in determining the status of Karabakh, a point of contention in the entire conflict resolution process, instead proposing “a return to normalcy in confidence building.”
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday said that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs “should not rush” to resolve the issue of Karabakh’s status. This is in line with repeated statements by Lavrov, as well as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin who have expressed views that the Karabakh is all but resolved since engineering the November 9 agreement, which essentially forced Armenia to surrender most of Artsakh and has caused the current border standoff, toward which Moscow has been nonchalant.
“Many are now talking about the fact that the question of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status remains unresolved,” Lavrov said during a press conference in Moscow. “Yes, it must eventually be settled with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.”
“At this stage they [the co-chairs] probably should not periodically raise the issue of the status but contribute to confidence-building measures, help to solve humanitarian issues and help Armenians and Azerbaijanis again safely live side by side. In this case, it will be easier to resolve the issue of the status two or three years later,” he said.
His statements do not correspond to reality since Azerbaijani forces breached Armenia’s sovereign border on May 12 and advanced to set up positions in Armenia’s Gegharkunik and Syunik provinces. Moscow’s response to the essential invasion of Armenia has been to advance the notion of accelerating processes it put in place to “open communications” between Armenia and Azerbaijan—essentially opening borders between the countries that are locked in a border dispute.
Lavrov’s statements also support assertions by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev who insists that his country’s territorial gains during last fall’s Artsakh war, which are clearly backed by Moscow, essentially resolved the Karabakh conflict.
Yerevan, on the other hand, still harbors the notion that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs will mediate a status for Karabakh, critical territories of which, including Shushi, were surrendered to Azerbaijan in the Putin-mandated November 9 agreement.