Putin to host talks with Armenia, Azerbaijan in Russia

Even as his brutal war on Ukraine drags on, Russian President Vladimir Putin will host a summit with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Russia on Monday in a bid to calm tensions between the two former Soviet states.

The trilateral talks in Sochi should “further steps to strengthen stability and security in the Transcaucasus,” the Kremlin’s press service announced Friday, adding that Putin is also planning to hold bilateral talks with Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

According to the Kremlin, leaders will work on the implementation of 2020 and 2021 agreements, which included a cease-fire and cessation of all hostilities in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh — an Armenian-controlled enclave internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan — which has been the source of tension for decades.

Clashes between the two former Soviet states flared up again in September with both sides accusing each other of targeting civilian objects.

Russia remains a regular presence in the region, but the Kremlin’s peacekeeping efforts have been questioned by both sides, with the EU increasingly working to fill the gap.

While European Council President Charles Michel led talks on how to avert future clashes with both countries in May, the EU is also strengthening its energy partnership with oil- and gas-rich Azerbaijan, hampering its potential role as a mediator in the conflict.

Pashinyan and Aliyev also sat down in Prague earlier this month with Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron. In a sign that the meeting was a success despite the hard stares around the table, the leaders agreed to a second get-together the same evening.

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