The presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in St. Petersburg in late June to discuss the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia's Ria Novosti reported on June 9.
The trilateral summit in St. Petersburg comes a month after Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan met in Vienna on May 16 for the first time since a four-day war in early April sent shock waves in the Caucasus and the international community. The protracted conflict began in the late 1980s; a ceasefire in 1994 ended hostilities, but there has been no peace settlement.
After the April violence, Russia has emerged as a winner in that it has become the default peace broker in the conflict. Together with France and the US, the Kremlin presides over the peace mediating Minsk Group, which operates under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). However, the Minsk Group has been unable to broker a deal over the breakaway region in the last two decades, in part because the warring parties have refused to compromise.
If Russia continues to play a leading role in the conflict, its influence over both Armenia, where it is already the main commercial and diplomatic partner, and Azerbaijan will likely increase, and the Kremlin will once again prove that its negotiating skills are superior to those of Western governments.
In a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in early June, Aliyev praised Moscow for its recent efforts towards a peace settlement.
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