Leaders of Iran, Russia, Turkey talk Karabakh

By Mark Dovich

The leaders of Iran, Russia, and Turkey discussed ongoing efforts to settle the Karabakh conflict on Monday and Tuesday, convening for a major summit in Tehran primarily aimed at resolving the conflict in Syria.

Perhaps most notably, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against any attempts to obstruct the strategically important Armenia-Iran land border, according to comments published in the Iranian press.

While Khamenei “expressed his satisfaction with Nagorno-Karabakh’s return to Azerbaijan” following the 2020 war, he added that “if there is an effort to block the border between Iran and Armenia, the Islamic Republic will oppose it, because this border has been a communication route for thousands of years.”

Khamenei, whose post gives him final say over nearly all policy decisions in Iran, repeated his position in a follow-up tweet in English.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Erdoğan that “settling the Karabakh problem is another important issue in our field of vision,” according to a Kremlin read-out. No other details were immediately made available.

Putin also told journalists that Russia sees opportunities for Iranian involvement in “developing infrastructure and resolving infrastructure issues in the South Caucasus,” referring to ongoing efforts to reopen transport connections between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Aside from Karabakh and Syria, the Iranian, Russian, and Turkish leaders also discussed steps to strengthen economic ties, as well as Turkey’s ongoing efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.

The summit was Putin’s first trip outside the former Soviet Union since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, as well as his first meeting with the leader of a NATO country since the war in Ukraine began.