Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan meet in Samarkand, April 14, 2023

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan (Azatutyun) — Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, discussed bilateral ties and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict when they met on Friday, April 14 for the third time in just over a month.

The talks took place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on the sidelines of a regular meeting of the top diplomats of ex-Soviet republics making up the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov again called for “intensifying efforts on all tracks of the Armenian-Azerbaijani normalization in accordance with the 2020-2022 agreements between the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

Russia regards those agreements as a blueprint for settling the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute. It has repeatedly accused the West of seeking to hijack them and sideline Moscow.

Lavrov has been trying to host fresh talks between Mirzoyan and Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.

Speaking in the Armenian parliament on Wednesday, Mirzoyan indicated that he will meet with Bayramov soon. But he did not specify the date or the format of the meeting. Bayramov did not travel to Samarkand for the CIS ministerial gathering.

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The Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani ministers were scheduled to meet in Moscow last December. Yerevan canceled the meeting in protest against Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Mirzoyan again raised the issue with Lavrov and “emphasized the need to lift the blockade of the Lachin corridor.”

Armenian leaders have accused the Russian peacekeepers of doing little to restore traffic through the sole road connecting Armenia to Karabakh. Russian officials have strongly denied that.

Mirzoyan was also reported to brief Lavrov on the earlier fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border which left at least seven soldiers from both sides dead. He described the deadly clash as “yet another manifestation of Azerbaijan’s aggressive policy.”

The two ministers held fresh talks amid unprecedented friction between their countries. It stems in large measure from what Yerevan sees as Moscow’s reluctance to support its main regional in the protracted conflict with Azerbaijan.

The rift deepened further late last month after Armenia’s Constitutional Court gave the green light for parliamentary ratification of the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty. The ruling followed an arrest warrant issued by the ICC for Russian President Vladimir Putin over war crimes allegedly committed by Russia in Ukraine.

Moscow warned on March 27 that recognition of The Hague tribunal’s jurisdiction would have “extremely negative” consequences for Russian-Armenian relations. The official readouts of Lavrov’s latest meeting with Mirzoyan made no mention of this issue.

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