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Will Iran and Russia join forces on Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict?

The renewed fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has allowed Iran to present itself as a responsible and peace-seeking actor in its northern neighborhood.
An ethnic Armenian soldier stands next to a cannon at artillery positions near the Nagorno-Karabakh's town of Martuni, April 7, 2016. REUTERS/Staff - RTSDZLE

TEHRAN, Iran — More than two decades have passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of Moscow’s domination over vast territories in the Caucasus and Central Asia. One bitter legacy of the Soviet era is the continued existence of “frozen conflicts” in these areas, conflicts that every now and then flare up for various reasons. During the past two weeks, the eruption of a new wave of fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has shown that this legacy still has serious destabilizing potential, at least in the South Caucasus.

Although the clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops that began April 2 have been temporarily halted, with a truce implemented after three days of fighting, the death of dozens of soldiers and civilians from both sides has caused serious concern among neighboring countries as well as regional and outside powers. After the eruption of clashes, Iran — which due to various economic and security considerations has always been concerned about stability in its northern regions — urged the two sides to show restraint and refrain from further escalation. It also called for resolving the issue through diplomatic means. At the same time, Tehran declared its willingness to mediate to end the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

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