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State Duma vice speaker says "third force" is behind Nagorno-Karabakh events

April 03, 1:07 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"It is clear that the force that continues to fan the flames of war in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus," the parliamentarian wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday
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© Anna Isakova/Russian State Duma Press Office/TASS

MOSCOW, April 3. /TASS/. Vice speaker of Russia’ State Duma (lower house of parliament) Sergei Zheleznyak has said a "third force" is behind developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh region describing them as a provocation.

"It is clear that the force that continues to fan the flames of war in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus dissatisfied with the peacekeeping and counter-terror success of Russia and our allies in Syria is interested in the speedy exacerbation of the protracted conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region," the parliamentarian wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.

According to Zheleznyak, "neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia essentially need this exacerbation now." He noted that "there is every likelihood that this provocation has been organized by a third force," adding that "information on its presence is beginning to leak out." In view of this, he drew attention to the fact that "at night in the mountains it is enough to have a few trained armed persons who know the opposing sides’ balance of forces to provoke them to open reciprocal ‘reprisal’ fire."

"That’s why the Russian president and our government agencies urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to cease fire and not to allow to draw them into someone else’s insidious game, as long as it is still possible," he noted, adding that "Russia will do its utmost to defuse tensions in the Caucasus."

"I hope the Caucasian wisdom will prevail over emotion," Zheleznyak wrote.

According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, there are fatalities on both sides after Saturday’s armed clashes in the region. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry earlier said the Armenian Armed Forces had intensively shelled the populated localities along the contact line. Later it said that the Azerbaijani armed forces had brought under their control a number of strategic heights and inhabited localities in Nagorno-Karabakh. The two countries blame each other for the deterioration of the situation.

Neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan fell out with each other in the late 1980s because of Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up but was mainly populated by Armenians.

In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and some adjacent territories. Thousands left their homes on both sides in a conflict that killed 30,000. A truce was called between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other in May 1994.

Talks on Nagorno-Karabakh have been held on the basis of the so-called Madrid Principles suggested by co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - Russia, France and the United States - in December 2007 in the Spanish capital. They include three key principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act: refraining from the threat or use of force, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination.

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