Russian Foreign Ministry doubles down on clarification as Lavrov prepares for Azerbaijan visit

By Mark Dovich

The Russian Foreign Ministry has doubled down on a clarification of an earlier comment by ministry head Sergey Lavrov, with spokesperson Maria Zakharova saying Wednesday that the Armenia-Azerbaijan border commission is “in no way connected with the situation” in the Karabakh village of Parukh.

Speaking to journalists alongside his Armenian counterpart last week, Lavrov said that the Parukh issue “will be studied and resolved within the framework of delimitation work,” but the Foreign Ministry pointedly edited the comment out its official transcript of the press conference.

Lavrov’s comment made headlines in both Yerevan and Baku, prompting the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson to issue a rebuttal, saying that “no issue is expected to be considered outside of the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border.”

In March, Azerbaijani troops moved into Parukh, displacing several hundred Armenian residents from the village and from a nearby settlement, Khramort. Both villages are located within territory that remained under ethnic Armenian control following the 2020 war in and around Karabakh and that is patrolled by Russian peacekeepers.

Last month, Yerevan and Baku officially formed a joint commission to delimit their shared border, but little has come of it so far.

The border between Armenia and Azerbaijan remains undelimited and undemarcated, as it was previously an internal Soviet boundary, and so officially defining it was not of concern for the authorities in Moscow.

Delimitation refers to the process by which a border is legally defined, while demarcation involves the process of physically marking a border, such as by building a fence or wall.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s clarification comes as Lavrov prepares for a trip next week to Baku, where he is expected to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.

Lavrov was in Ankara and Yerevan last week, where he held talks with his Turkish and Armenian counterparts, as well as with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

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