Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – archive photo

MOSCOW — Russia urged Turkey on Thursday to exercise restraint in its reaction to the deadly hostilities on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border which has been strongly condemned by Armenia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed the clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces during a telephone conversation.

“In connection with the recent escalation of violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Russian side emphasized the need for a balanced approach and containment of the parties involved in the conflict to prevent the further aggravation of the situation, ensure security on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, and intensify efforts for the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“They agreed to develop cooperation between Moscow and Ankara to stabilize the region,” added the statement. It gave no further details.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish leaders blamed Armenia for the violence that left at least 17 soldiers dead. For its part, the Armenian Foreign Ministry branded Turkey a “security threat to Armenia and the region.”

Turkey’s National Security Council condemned the Armenian “aggression” on Wednesday in a statement issued after a meeting chaired by Erdogan. It said Ankara “will support any decision by Azerbaijan.”

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar vowed on July 16 that Armenia will be “brought to account” for its “attack” on Azerbaijan. He did not elaborate.

Akar spoke at a meeting with a visiting Azerbaijani military delegation headed by Deputy Defense Minister Ramiz Tahirov. The delegation also met with Ismail Demir, the head of a state body overseeing the Turkish defense industry. Demir tweeted afterwards that Ankara is ready to provide Baku with military drones and missiles.

Successive Turkish governments have lent Azerbaijan full support throughout the Karabakh conflict, reflecting close ethnic and cultural ties between the two Turkic nations. They have made the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia conditional on a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku.

Analysts believe Moscow would strongly oppose Turkish military presence in the former Soviet region regarded by it as a zone of Russian geopolitical influence.

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