Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, with is Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov, in Baku on February 28

Russia Objects to Azeri Checkpoint at Lachin Corridor


BAKU (Combined Sources) — Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated on Tuesday, February 28, Russia’s opposition to Azerbaijan’s desire to set up a checkpoint on the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia which has been blocked by Baku since December 12.

Visiting Baku, Lavrov said traffic through the Lachin corridor must be regulated in strict conformity with a 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement that placed it under the control of Russian peacekeepers stationed in Karabakh.

“It calls for the free movement of purely civilian and humanitarian cargo and civilians,” Lavrov said after talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov. “In our contacts, we are trying to achieve that first and foremost through the peacekeeping contingent. The setting up of any checkpoint there is not envisaged.”

“But it is possible to dispel, by technical means, suspicions that the corridor is not functioning as intended. We discussed that today,” he added.

Lavrov alluded to Azerbaijani allegations that Armenia shipped landmines to Karabakh through the corridor in breach of the 2020 ceasefire brokered by Moscow.

Both Yerevan and Stepanakert have strongly denied the allegations voiced both before and after Azerbaijani government-backed protesters blocked Karabakh’s land link with the outside world on December 12. The Armenian side views the blockade as a gross violation of the truce accord.

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Lavrov called for a “swift and full unblocking of traffic along the Lachin corridor” during a January 17 phone call with Bayramov. He said the following day that Moscow told Baku that the Russian peacekeepers “can check each vehicle for the absence of prohibited, non-humanitarian, non-civilian goods in it.”

The blockade has not been lifted yet. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said last week that Baku wants to set up a checkpoint on Karabakh’s lifeline road in order to ensure its “transparent” functioning. Yerevan rejected the idea.

The trilateral statement of the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan dated November 9, 2020 does not provide for the establishment of checkpoints on the Lachin corridor, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference following talks with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on Tuesday, February 28.

Lavrov revealed that he has reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to provide an opportunity to continue trilateral negotiations between the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan and Armenia at the level of foreign ministers, “We reaffirmed our readiness to provide an opportunity to continue such meetings,” he said.

The Russian Foreign Minister noted that the Azerbaijani side expressed readiness to hold a new meeting in this format. “The Armenian side said that it also does not object, but so far it hasn’t given final consent,” Lavrov added.

He said that Moscow provided a platform for a trilateral meeting of foreign ministers on several occasions.

In addition, Lavrov said earlier that Russia welcomes any efforts from other countries that are aimed at normalizing relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as at strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation in the region.

“Many of our international colleagues, including those far from this region, show a keen interest in helping to move towards a settlement between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Lavrov said, according to Tass.

“We, as President [Vladimir] Putin of Russia has repeatedly said, welcome any effort that will proceed from the interests of stabilizing the situation and creating conditions for all the countries here to have the opportunity to cooperate normally, on the basis of mutual respect, on the basis of mutual benefit, in the interests of their countries and peoples”.

(Stories from Azatutyun and were used to compile this report.)

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