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Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia raise concerns in Russia

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Russia has expressed its “extreme concern” amid an ongoing escalation of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Karabakh.

The foreign ministry’s comments came a day after Azerbaijan set up a checkpoint on the only land link with Karabakh, angering Armenia.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over Karabakh, which has been under Armenian occupation for three decades.

Moscow brokered a ceasefire after the last round of fighting in 2020 and deployed peacekeepers along the only road connecting Karabakh with Armenia, the Lachin corridor.

“We express our deep concern about the situation within the area of ​​responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The statement also warned of “unilateral steps” that violate the ceasefire.

Under the ceasefire agreement, Azerbaijan must guarantee safe passage through the corridor.

But Azerbaijan said it had set up a checkpoint on Sunday “to prevent the illegal transfer of manpower, weapons and mines.”

It added that the checkpoint “will be implemented in coordination with the Russian peacekeeping force.”

Armenia denied the allegations as a “far-fetched and baseless pretext” and said the move violated the ceasefire.

“The situation is not easy, it requires additional efforts,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Analysts stress that Moscow does not want to harm its relations with Turkey, which is the sponsor of Azerbaijan regarding Armenia.

– “inability or unwillingness”

There was indeed “constant anger in Yerevan over Russia’s actions,” independent expert Arkady Dubnov told AFP.

He said Moscow was seen as showing “an inability or unwillingness to put pressure on Azerbaijan”.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia has relied on Russia for its military and economic support.

The country is part of the Russia-led regional Collective Security Treaty Organization and hosts a Russian military base.

Expert Andrei Suzdaltsev said that the failure of Russian forces to side with Armenia in the conflict with Azerbaijan “severely undermined the CSTO’s credibility.”

In January, Armenia scrapped plans to host CSTO exercises, but has so far refused to completely withdraw from the agreement.

Many analysts say the small country cannot afford to abandon the Collective Security Treaty Organization, even as the United States and the European Union seek to take the lead in peace talks.

“Armenia has made a sharp political shift. It has moved away from a united front with Moscow to stabilize the situation,” Suzdaltsev said.

In March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the West of “hidden attempts … to undermine the security structure in the region.”

“We see the goals that the West seeks to achieve in the South Caucasus. And it does not hide it – to tear Russia apart” from the region, he said.

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