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Putin calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to halt fighting, exchange bodies and prisoners, and meet in Moscow for talks

Vladimir Putin is stepping up Russia’s diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, calling on both sides to cease hostilities immediately. Full-scale fighting resumed in the contested region on September 27 and has escalated to levels not seen in decades. 

According to an announcement released by the Kremlin, Putin has conducted a series of phone calls with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The Russian president says halting hostilities is necessary for humanitarian reasons — specifically for the exchange of prisoners and killed soldiers’ bodies.

The Russian president has also invited the foreign ministers of both Azerbaijan and Armenia for talks in Moscow, mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Since the late 1980s, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has killed roughly 20,000 people and made refugees of hundreds of thousands more. Since the most recent escalation that began on September 27, 2020, several hundred soldiers have reportedly died in combat, along with several dozen civilians.

On October 8, representatives from the “Minsk Group” — Russia, France, and the U.S. — hosted Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov for ceasefire talks in Geneva.

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