Gainesville Sun – Sep 7, 1993
The Associated Press
MOSCOW – Azerbaijan’s acting president promised Monday to repair ties with Moscow and urged Russia’s leadership to help stop an Armenian advance in his republic. President Boris Yeltsin of Russia did not immediately respond. His answer will be watched carefully as an indication of how aggressive Moscow will be in trying to extinguish conflicts outside Russia but inside the former Soviet Union.
“Russia cannot remain indifferent to one of the most burning issues” in the Caucasus Mountains region, Azerbaijani leader Geidar Aliev said after an hour of closed-door talks with Yeltsin in the Kremlin.
The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Russia’s defense minister, Pavel Grachev, as saying Aliev asked him to use “the authority of the Russian army, the defense ministry and personal relations” with Armenia’s leaders to end the fighting.
Aliev also said Azerbaijan might join the Commonwealth of Independent States, the loose association of former Soviet republics Armenia is already a member.
If neither Russia nor the CIS help stop the Armenian military advance. Azerbaijan could turn to its ethnic allies in Turkey and Iran. The prospect of Iran joining the war greatly worries Russia and the West, which fear Islamic fundamentalists could gain influence in the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union.
Iran has dispatched troops to its border with Azerbaijan. About 200.000 Azerbaijani refugees have fled to the border area.