Date: 24 November 2020

Russian Inspection: Lavrov, Shoigu Visit Armenia and Azerbaijan

Over the course of just one day, a high-ranking Russian government delegation traveled to Armenia and then Azerbaijan – the two Caucasus countries being now in an open conflict one with another. On the sidelines of the talks, the Russians discussed dispatching its troops to the Nagorno-Karabakh war theater, possibly with more servicemen to be sent than initially agreed.


On November 21, the Russian government delegation comprising defense and foreign ministers as well as some other top officials arrived in the capital of Armenia. What for? To discuss the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the implementation of a truce deal. What Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said while in talks with Russia’s Lavrov hints that the Armenian official has come to terms with the fact of becoming more dependent on Russia than before the war. On the other hand, the visit from Russian top officials might be the sign of Moscow having accepted that Pashinyan will continue to serve as Armenia’s prime minister for the time being. It also came a day after Pashinian fired Armenian Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan, who was in office since May 2018, as well as the country’s foreign minister, albeit sometime earlier. With his firm steps toward opposition groups, Pashinyan has no intention of giving in so easily. After talking to its formal ally in Yerevan, the Russian delegation flew to Azerbaijan, a country hostile to Armenia. The atmosphere during the talks in Baku was far better than in Yerevan. It comes as no surprise as with Moscow’s stance, Azerbaijan could claim a large part of the disputed lands while a Russian-brokered truce brought very favorable conditions for Baku. Not surprisingly, in his meeting with the delegation, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev emphasized the “personal role” Putin played. Lavrov, for his part, praised Azerbaijan’s attitude. Quite interestingly, the Russian government delegation included Alexander Novak, Russia’s deputy prime minister and former energy minister, now in charge of the whole sector. His presence may pertain to energy supply needs of Nagorno-Karabakh, but also the issue of crude oil and gas in Azerbaijan as the energy-rich country is sending more and more hydrocarbon commodities to Turkey and Europe.

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