Secretary of State Discusses Nagorno-Karabakh with Russian Minister Amid Rising Tensions

05/21/2021 Artsakh (International Christian Concern) – This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on his visit this week to northern Europe, during which they discussed their governments’ roles in overseeing mediation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. These talks come during a week when tensions between the two countries have risen after Azerbaijani troops encroached 3.5 kilometers into Armenian territory.

Russia brokered a ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan in December to end fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) after Azerbaijani troops aided by Turkish-paid Syrian mercenaries attacked in September. Russian peacekeepers are now present in the region to ensure that fighting does not break out again.

Russia and the United States are both members of the OSCE Minsk Group, a collection of states formed in 1994 mandated to oversee mediations and ensure peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Many Armenian groups within the U.S. have been calling for American leaders to take a more active role in this group to ensure that Azerbaijan does not continue to commit aggressions with Turkey against Armenians.

Azerbaijan still holds an estimated 200 prisoners of war in captivity, many of them Armenian Christian civilians. Armenians are a predominately Christian community that has suffered multiple genocides because of their combined ethnic-faith identity. The events in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 were reminiscent of the 1915 genocide which almost eliminated them from their native lands.

With the recent movements of Azerbaijani troops into Armenian territory, Russian and American mediation may prove to be even more vital in the coming weeks.

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