SOCHI: Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia on Sunday to talk instead of fight, after more than a dozen people were killed in clashes over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The Kremlin chief hosted a meeting between the heads of the two ex-Soviet states this weekend, giving him a chance to play a peacekeeping role in the former Soviet Union at a time when the West is accusing Moscow of backing pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
“The key thing is: There’s no bigger tragedy than the loss of human lives,” Putin told Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Serzh Sagrsyan in the second day of talks in his Black Sea residence in Sochi. “We need to act wisely and patiently and pay respect to one another to find the solution.”
The good-faith comments were echoed by Aliyev, who said: “I hope that we will find a solution in line with... the principles of international law in the nearest future.” At least 16 combatants were killed and several wounded in last week’s clashes around the region, which lies within Azerbaijan but is populated mostly by ethnic Armenians. The clashes highlighted the risk of broader conflict in the South Caucasus area, where oil and natural gas flow from the Caspian region to Europe.
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