On October 1, the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center held a discussion about Russia’s aims and priorities in Nagorno-Karabakh with three experts on Russia and the South Caucuses.


Armenians and Azerbaijanis fought over Nagorno-Karabakh beginning as early as 1988 and accelerating as the Soviet Union raced toward collapse in 1991, finally culminating in a full-fledged war that ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire in 1994. Talks on a long-term settlement that have been mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group co-chairs France, Russia, and the United States have failed to produce agreement, but have helped restrain the parties and maintain a tenuous peace.

The United States and France strongly supported the initiative of then-President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov to agree to the OSCE Minsk Group’s “Basic Principles” document in 2009 to 2011. But Russia’s interest and role on Nagorno-Karabakh have long been sources of speculation and some have argued that Moscow “hijacked” the Minsk Group and was pursuing a different agenda.

A discussion with

  • Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment
  • E. Wayne Merry, Senior Fellow for Europe and Eurasia, American Foreign Policy Council
  • Sergey Markedonov, Visiting Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Ross Wilson, Director, Patriciu Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council

Thomas de Waal is senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment’s Eurasia Program, specializing primarily in the South Caucasus. Mr. De Waal is an acknowledged expert on the unresolved conflicts of the South Caucasus: Abkhazia, Nagorny Karabakh, and South Ossetia. A distinguished journalist and analyst, and an award-winning writer, Mr. De Waal is an author and co-author of several books, including the authoritative book on the Karabakh conflict, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War.

E. Wayne Merry is a Senior Fellow for Europe and Eurasia at the American Foreign Policy Council. A well-known expert on topics relating to Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Balkans, European security and trans-Atlantic relations. In twenty-six years in the United States Foreign Service, he worked as a diplomat and political analyst in Moscow, East Berlin, Athens, New York and Tunis, and served in the State, Defense and Treasury Departments as well as on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Sergey Markedonov
is a visiting fellow in the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program. He is an expert on the Caucasus, as well as Black Sea, regional security, nationalism, interethnic conflicts and de-facto states in the post-Soviet area. His publications include several books and reports, 50 academic articles, and more than 400 press pieces. Recently published books and reports include The Turbulent Eurasia, The Big Caucasus: Consequences of the “Five Day War,” New Challenges and Prospects), and The Ethno-national and Religious Factors in Social-political Life of the Caucasus Region.

Related Experts: Ross Wilson