Kremlin calls on Armenia, Azerbaijan to exercise restraint in Karabakh

Russian, Turkish leaders may exchange views on situation around Karabakh during Sochi meeting on Friday, says spokesman.

Kremlin calls on Armenia, Azerbaijan to exercise restraint in Karabakh

The Kremlin on Thursday said it is concerned about the recent situation in the Karabakh region, calling on Armenia and Azerbaijan to exercise restraint and implement the tripartite agreements.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan may exchange views on the situation around Karabakh during a meeting in Sochi on Friday.

Putin and Erdogan will discuss the situation in Ukraine and Syria during the meeting, he also said.

Putin's schedule does not yet include contacts with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev amid the escalation in Karabakh, according to the Kremlin spokesman, but "it can be quickly organized if necessary."

Azerbaijan said it launched a retaliatory operation Wednesday against Armenian forces in Karabakh after Armenia opened fire and killed an Azerbaijani soldier, according to its Defense Ministry.

Azerbaijan "took relevant measures" and launched a counter-operation after Armenian forces tried to seize Girkhgiz hill and establish new combat positions, a ministry statement said.

"As a result of the 'revenge' retaliatory measure carried out by Azerbaijani Army Units, the Girkhgiz peak, as well as Saribaba along the Karabakh ridge of the Lesser Caucasus and a number of other important heights, were taken under control," it added.

Separately, the ministry on Thursday reported "full control over the operational situation" in the region.  

Ukraine grain export deal

Meanwhile, touching upon the sustainability of the grain export deal signed in Istanbul, Peskov said this mechanism, established to support the export of grain accumulated in Ukrainian ports, "does not cover a one-time process. We hope it continues to work with the same efficiency."

The agreement is a "good example of how the most difficult issues can be resolved with the interests of all parties in mind," he added.

He also said Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "personally made a great contribution."

Besides, the two leaders are expected to exchange views on the issue of grain shipments during a meeting in Sochi, he noted.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a historic deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports -- Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny -- for grain that has been stuck for months due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which is now in its sixth month.

To oversee Ukrainian grain exports, a joint coordination center (JCC) in Istanbul was officially launched on July 27, comprising representatives from Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine to enable the safe transport by merchant ships of commercial foodstuffs and fertilizers from the three key Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh (Upper Karabakh), a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

During the conflict in fall 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages that had been occupied by Armenia for nearly three decades.

A Russian-brokered deal in November 2020 brought an end to the conflict.

Hüseyin Demir