In another indication of Russia’s dominating role in settlement of the long-running Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday hosted in Moscow his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan, Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov.
Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued after the meeting, that the foreign ministers “continued discussion of issues on the agenda of Karabakh conflict settlement,” which basically means that nothing happened at the meeting.
In fact, nothing was expected in the meeting anyway. Astana summit, where Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents last met, was a big failure. Tension has been growing on the contact line between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces, with frequent and often deadly skirmishes and near-constant violations of the ceasefire agreement.
France and U.S.A., two other mediators in the conflict settlement process, seem to have completely backed off from talks, while Russia keeps strengthening its foot in the region, by single-handedly mediating in the peace talks, while arming the conflicting sides with the best arms it has.
According to Azerbaijani officials, in 2011 the overall cost of the military budget and defense of the country will amount to 4.46 billion dollars, or 8.9% of gross domestic product of Azerbaijan. Russia has leaked information about its intentions of selling multi-million dollar S-300 missile systems to Azerbaijan.
Armenia, on the other hand, has a military budget, which officially is more than 10 times inferior to Azerbaijan (expected to be something like 387 million). However, Armenia ensured a deal with Russia last year, which assigns Russia and its troops a greater role in ensuring Armenia’s security. Technically, this means Armenia will gain access to Russian S-300 missile systems located in a Russian base in Northern Armenia. Here, again, Russia has its big gains and interests.
So basically, what we have here, is the arms dealer, selling the big loaded guns to the two adversaries and telling the world to back off, because he’s the main ‘peace’ mediator…
More on the subject from Nezovisimaya Gazeta [RU]