Alexandros Petersen, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Energy Center, was interviewed by Azerbaijan’s News.Az’s Aliyah Fridman.

Three Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and one was wounded when Armenians broke the cease-fire on 18 February. May the incident lead to a new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia?

Unfortunately, cease-fire violations are common in the Nagorno-Karabakh stalemate, with around 3,000 killed since the end of full hostilities. This latest incident is regrettable and underscores the importance of moving swiftly and with utmost effort towards conflict settlement. While the loss of life is tragic, Azerbaijanis can show themselves to be the most level-headed party to the conflict by responding diplomatically and through the Minsk Group process.
The opinion is deepening in Azerbaijan that war is the only way to resolve the problem of the occupied territories. Do you think that the international community already knows enough about the conflict to justify such an attempt by Azerbaijan?

Deepening the conflict at this time would be counterproductive and come with no assurances that Azerbaijan will gain anything but more lives lost and resources spent in vain. Presidents Aliyev and Sargsyan have had a number of good discussions in the past few months and the prospects for conflict settlement look better than they have for a long time. Therefore, it would not only be foolhardy, but Baku would lose ground in negotiations if the conflict were deepened in any way. That said, the international community and particularly the Minsk Group co-chairs must put more attention on and act with far more urgency to find resolution to the conflict. Efforts by Russia, France and the US so far have not been satisfactory.
The war between Georgia and Russia showed that Moscow is not going to ignore attempts by its neighbours to restore their territorial integrity. What about Karabakh? Is a Russian invasion possible?

I do not think that a Russian invasion of Azerbaijani territory is a possibility in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. That said, Russia’s role in the conflict is enormously counterproductive, in its blatant support of one of the two belligerent parties, its undermining of the Minsk Group process – shutting out France and the US – its military presence in Armenia and its maintenance of instability in the Caucasus region more broadly. Baku will have to work closely with Moscow to achieve conflict resolution, but the other two Minsk Group co-chairs need to become more involved in the process to counter Russia’s influence.
Is the present format of the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs (US, Russia, France) effective enough or is there a need to involve additional mediators?

The current format is not ideal, but it is workable and could be used to good effect if there were more political will to do so on the part of all of the co-chairs, as well as Baku and Yerevan. Though not a co-chair, Turkey is a member of the Minsk Group and should become more active, particularly now that Ankara’s relationship with Yerevan is changing.
Do you expect progress on the Karabakh settlement from Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the OSCE?

It is possible that Kazakhstan’s chairmanship will accomplish more than its predecessors when it comes to security in the Caucasus. Astana has indicated that it intends to address Nagorno-Karabakh and has certainly shown itself so far to have been one of the more active chairmanships of the OSCE. Azerbaijani decision-makers should encourage the Minsk Group co-chairs, particularly the US, to engage with Kazakhstan to work together towards conflict settlement.

This interview appeared at News.Az as "Azerbaijan should respond diplomatically to cease-fire deaths."