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Clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces continue to erupt in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region despite Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering a ceasefire last Friday. The Nagorno-Karabakh enclave is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated and governed by ethnic Armenians. The ongoing violence has sparked fears of a wider conflict, as details emerge of Turkey increasing its military exports to its close ally Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, Russia has ties with the former Soviet nations, but a key defence pact with Armenia.
Amid the escalation of fighting, Democrat Presidential nominee Joe Biden has this week called on the Trump administration to get “more involved” in easing tensions in the region.
But, Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent, has warned intervention from the US would only make the situation worse.
Mr Sakwa, an associate Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme, insisted Washington could only be of use if it was able to curb the involvement of Turkey.
He told Express.co.uk: “I do not think that the world is waiting for US involvement – a classic case of US narcissism.
“The issues are regional and deeply local, and US intervention will probably only exacerbate the tensions – unless the US could act as a restraining force on Turkey.”
The Trump regime have called for a diplomatic solution to end the conflict and lashed out a Turkey for suppling weapons to Azerbaijan.
Speaking on Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this historic fight.
“The resolution of that conflict ought to be done through negotiation and peaceful discussions, not through armed conflict, and certainly not with third party countries coming in to lend their firepower to what is already a powder keg of a situation.”
The Kremlin confirmed Mr Putin held talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday and reaffirmed the importance of a Moscow-mediated ceasefire.
Russia has so far resisted military action in the Nagorno-Karabakh, but Professor Sakwa warns Mr Putin’s hand could be forced if the situation deteriorates.
The Russian expert explained Mr Putin may have to make an intervention if Azerbaijan targeted Armenian defences in Artsakh – a breakaway state in the South Caucasus – and threatened its people.
On the possibility on Russian intervention, Professor Sakwa said: “If Armenia proper came under threat, or of Azeri forces break through Armenian lines in Artsakh and threaten bloody pogroms against the Armenian population.
“Or if external forces become too prominent.”
On Friday, Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of launching attacks.
Armenian defence ministry official Artsrun Hovhannisyan said Azerbaijan had conducted artillery bombardments of Nagorno-Karabakh from the north with “total disregard for the humanitarian truce”.
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Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said Nagorno-Karabakh forces had to retreat and Azeri forces retained the advantage along the line of contact.
The Nagorno-Karabakh defence ministry reported 29 further military casualties, bringing the total number of personnel killed to 633 since the outbreak of fighting on September 27.
The Azeri prosecutor-general’s added 47 civilians had been killed and 222 wounded.
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