Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a phone call Monday called for peace talks to end clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Kremlin said, according to AFP.
The phone call at Turkey’s initiative took place after Armenia’s military said one of its soldiers was killed by sniper fire from across the border with Azerbaijan in the latest bout of deadly violence.
Border clashes erupted in mid-July between the ex-Soviet republics, which have for decades been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nineteen people — including the Armenian soldier — have been killed on both sides in the recent border clashes so far.
Putin and Erdoğan discussed the conflict, and the Russian strongman “underlined the importance of not allowing any actions that promote an escalation in tensions,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
Regional powerbroker Moscow as well as Western powers have called for an immediate de-escalation amid fears that Russia and Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan, could be drawn into a confrontation.
Both Putin and Erdoğan said they backed “resolving the conflict situation exclusively in a peaceful way, through talks.”
Russia has offered to mediate peace talks between the South Caucasus countries.
Armenia’s defense ministry on Monday said that one of its troops was “killed by sniper fire from the direction of the enemy” overnight — after a week of relative calm on the border.
Azerbaijan for its part accused Armenia of using “large caliber machine guns and sniper rifles” and violating a ceasefire multiple times along the border over the past 24 hours.
The uptick in violence has been unusual as it broke out hundreds of kilometers (miles) from Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s southwestern region seized by ethnic Armenian separatists in a 1990s war that claimed 30,000 lives.