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EU, Russia and US held secret talks before one-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh

Wednesday, 4 October 2023, 11:35

Top US and EU officials met with Russian representatives in secret emergency talks in Türkiye over Nagorno-Karabakh, just days before Azerbaijan launched its lightning-fast military operation to regain control of the territory.

Source: European Pravda, citing Politico

Details: A senior diplomat with knowledge of the discussions told the media that the meeting took place on 17 September in Istanbul as part of efforts to pressure Azerbaijan to end its nine-month blockade of the Lachin Corridor, which leads to Nagorno-Karabakh, and allow convoys of humanitarian aid from Armenia.

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The source says that the meeting was focused on ensuring supplies of food and fuel for approximately 100,000 residents of the unrecognised republic.

The US was represented by Louis Bono, Washington's senior adviser on negotiations in the Caucasus. The EU sent Toivo Klaar, its representative in the region. Russia sent Igor Khovaev, Putin's special representative for the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the meeting.

The secret meeting is an example of rare contact between Moscow and the West on serious security issues since Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 undermined traditional diplomacy, the media said.

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The EU representative explained that "we believe it is important to maintain channels of communications with relevant interlocutors to avoid misunderstandings".

He also said that Klaar had tried to keep the channels of communication open on many fronts over the "past years," including talks with Khovaev and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin.

A representative of the US State Department refused to comment on the meeting, saying only that "we do not comment on private diplomatic discussions".

An American official, speaking anonymously, explained that the negotiations were held due to the understanding that the Kremlin still dominates the region.

"We need to be able to work with the Russians on this because they do have influence over the parties, especially as we’re at a precarious moment right now," the US official said.

Background:

  • On 19 September, Azerbaijan launched a lightning offensive against the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh, sending tanks and troops to the region under the cover of heavy artillery.
  • The leaders of the Karabakh Armenians were forced to surrender after 24 hours of fierce fighting.
  • Since then, more than 100,000 people have fled their homes, fearing for their lives, according to the Armenian government.

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