It was only fitting that President Vladimir Putin took the bickering leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to a wrestling match in Sochi on August 10. The tableau of Putin wedged between Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev emphasized Russia’s role as a war-deterrent and power-broker in the two Caucasus countries’ boiling conflict over the breakaway territory of Nagorno Karabakh.
The Putin-Aliyev-Sargsyan meeting in Sochi was held against the backdrop of the fiercest fighting in years over the remote, mountainous area. That sense of heightened conflict extended to the summit. Before attending the wrestling match, the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents had a bout of words between themselves. The two accused one another of ignoring UN Security Council resolutions on Karabakh.
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