• The Financial District


Headlines last week that the presidents of Russia and France were jointly calling for a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh were “heartbreaking” to Carey Cavanaugh, a former US ambassador charged with helping to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Michael Safi and Julian Borger reported for The Guardian of the United Kingdom. 

Partly it was because they meant the century-old dispute had flared up again, killing more than 400 people so far, including more than a dozen civilians. But it was also because the US – which, along with France and Russia, forms the OSCE Minsk Group, a troika that has worked to end the conflict since 1993 – was missing from the statement. 

"The US wasn’t coordinated into that discussion,” said Cavanaugh, the former US representative to the Minsk Group. He is among observers of the Caucasus who see in this week’s events the latest example of US diplomatic disengagement from theatres around the world, amid wider fears of a hollowing out of the US state department under Donald Trump. “The Americans have withdrawn from this issue,” said Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow specializing in the Caucasus with Carnegie Europe. “If Trump has heard of Azerbaijan, it’s because it’s a place he wanted to build a Trump tower in.” 

The Trump administration has been largely silent about the conflict. Secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, only commented on it when asked about it in an interview this week, and he was non-committal. “Our view is that this has been a longstanding conflict between these two countries in this particular piece of real estate,” Pompeo told Fox News. “We’re discouraging internationalization of this. We think outsiders ought to stay out. We’re urging a ceasefire. We want them both to back up. We’ve spoken to the leadership in each of the two countries, asking them to do just that.”

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