“The conventional wisdom with Karabakh has been that Moscow really doesn’t want a settlement… The problem with that conventional wisdom is that it just doesn’t bear itself out,” former U.S.’ Karabakh negotiator James Warlick said on October 19. He spoke as part of the panel “Frozen Conflicts and the Kremlin’s Agenda” hosted by the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington.
Warlick recalled that Moscow and Washington “worked together pretty well to come up with a plan that could form the basis for a settlement. Those same ideas are still in play.”
He also noted the limits of Moscow’s influence in the conflict. “Even if Moscow were to decide tomorrow that Nagorno Karabakh needs to be settled, I don’t think, it’s going to happen that easily,” he said. Since “we do have varying degrees of independence and sovereignty among the players [among the parties] to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.”
Turning to the U.S. position, he said that he sees “no evidence in this [Trump] administration of any interest in Nagorno-Karabakh.” As an example he pointed to the fact that more than a year after his appointment, the current U.S. representative for the Karabakh talks Andrew Schofer has yet to be promoted to the rank of ambassador, which would be the norm with past U.S. co-chairs.
Warlick was the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group from 2013 to the end of 2016. He then joined the Moscow-based law firm of Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners as its Washington representative.
For more on Russia’s position in Karabakh read a Q&A with Sergey Markedonov.