YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Ceasefire violations around Nagorno-Karabakh have decreased dramatically since Sunday’s meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents mediated by their Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, a senior official in Stepanakert said on Thursday.
“The easing of tensions is visible. The situation is by and large stable now,” said Davit Babayan, the spokesman for Karabakh President Bako Sahakian.
“While there was an average of 400 Azerbaijani violations per day before the Sochi meeting, they are now down to roughly 30-40. They have decreased more than tenfold,” Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The defense ministries of both Armenia and Azerbaijan have likewise reported a steady fall in skirmishes along the Karabakh “line of contact” and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in recent days. Neither party to the Karabakh conflict has reported combat casualties after Sunday’s talks between Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev held in Putin’s presence.
Putin hosted the talks following a sharp escalation of tensions in the conflict zone that left more than 20 soldiers from both sides dead. Aliyev and Sarkisian announced no concrete agreements or issue joint statements afterwards. But they both told Putin at the trilateral meeting that they remain committed to a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh dispute. Sarkisian predicted later on Sunday that truce violations will become less frequent in the coming days.
Many in Armenia and Karabakh believe that Aliyev agreed to de-escalate the situation because of heavy losses suffered by the Azerbaijani army from July 31 to August 2. Some Armenian pundits say Putin’s stance was also a major factor.
Putin’s unilateral initiative has been welcomed by the United States, with James Warlick, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, calling the Sochi summit encouraging. “The presidents can build on their discussion in Sochi by meeting again in the fall to advance negotiations on a peaceful settlement,” Warlick told the Azerbaijani APA news agency on Wednesday.
Warlick announced that he and fellow Minsk Group co-chairs representing Russia and France plan to again visit the region soon.