Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 29 said Turkey should be among countries involved in talks to end the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Azerbaijan and close ally Turkey have pressed for Ankara’s involvement in negotiations as a key demand in finding a path to peace, but until now Russia has been cool on the idea. However, though he stated that there should be Turkish participation, Putin did not specify whether Turkey should be given equal status to Russia, France and US, which for three decades have co-chaired the OSCE Minsk Group that is charged with finding a solution to the dispute over the enclave, controlled by ethnic Armenians but internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.
Putin said that “many countries, including Turkey and a host of European states” should work together to find consensus, Reuters reported. “The first stage is to stop the fighting, stop the killing,” Putin reportedly told an online Russian investment forum.
The Minsk Group was due to meet for peace talks in Geneva on October 30 with the possible attendance of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s top diplomats. On the eve of that meeting, the European Union stated that an escalation in the month-old conflict was “unacceptable” and called for a lasting settlement after the collapse of three ceasefires brokered by Russia, France and the US. The death toll in the ongoing war is thought by most observers to have reached many thousands, with Putin estimating 5,000 when speaking on the matter a week ago.
October 29 brought more claims from each side of military attacks, including the indiscriminate shelling of civilians.
In the first such handover since the conflict erupted on September 27, Azerbaijan returned 30 bodies of soldiers to Armenia. Armenia’s defence ministry said Yerevan would respond in kind.
The defence ministry of Nagorno-Karabakh, a self-proclaimed republic, said on October 29 it had suffered 51 more casualties, taking its military death toll to 1,166.
Azerbaijan has not disclosed its military casualties.
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