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The American periodical “The Wall Street Journal”, referring to White House sources, informs that for months President Biden's chief national security adviser Sullivan has been "negotiating with high-ranking aides of the Russian president". According to reports, Sullivan had discussions with Ushakov, assistant to the Russian president on foreign affairs, and Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council. The subjects of negotiations are two issues: the non-use of nuclear weapons and the limitation of the Ukrainian "crisis zone". Neither Washington nor Moscow confirmed this information, but neither did they deny it. Moreover, it is remarkable that the information leak coincided with Sullivan's visit to Kyiv, where he had closed discussions with the President of Ukraine and the Minister of Defense. On the same day, the President of Russia canceled the decision to close the "grain corridor" in the Black Sea. This was justified by the fact that Ukraine "gave firm guarantees that the Sevastopol base of the Russian Navy will not be attacked again." It is possible that Zelensky announced these guarantees as a result of negotiations with the US President's chief adviser on national security issues. In fact, it can be considered a non-public Russian-American agreement, which proves that the two countries, despite the sharp confrontation, still maintain the most important channels of communication in order to avoid a direct confrontation. The Western press also informs that the United States "is urging the President of Ukraine through non-public channels to start negotiations with Russia and at least reach a ceasefire agreement". This informational context is interesting for us in the sense that the Russian-American negotiating officials are also involved in discussions about the Armenian-Azerbaijani and Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. In particular, the assistant of the Russian president Ushakov was the first to announce the tripartite meeting in Sochi. It proves that preparatory issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan were discussed through him. It is more spectacular that on October 27, within the framework of his visit to Washington, the Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia, Armen Grigoryan, had a closed meeting with Sullivan, the chief adviser on national security issues of the US President. A few days ago, Armen Grigoryan and the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Patrushev also held talks. Speaking about the tripartite meeting in Sochi, Russian experts note that Russia "does not reject other platforms of Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations". Basically, at the initiative of the President of the Council of Europe, Charles Michel, the first meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev followed the Putin-Pashinyan-Aliev talks in Moscow on November 26, 2021. Moreover, the Russian President himself announced the Brussels platform on that day, telling Pashinyan and Aliyev: "They are waiting for you there." Of course, this does not mean that there are no differences between Russia and the West in the issues of the South Caucasus. Nevertheless, the recent discussions, especially Vladimir Putin's statement in Astana about the intention to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh issue with the French president, give the impression that both the United States and the European Union are inclined to recognize the November 9 Declaration, as well as Russia's involvement in establishing a ceasefire. It definitely corresponds to the interests of the Russian side, because if the situation is managed skillfully and effectively, Moscow can achieve international legitimization of the peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh.  In the discussions of the UN Security Council on the issue of Azerbaijani aggression on September 13-14, the proposal of the Russian representative that the Security Council should refer to the Declaration of November 9 was not supported. But it should be noted that no document was adopted as a result of the discussions, which means that the topic is not closed. Moreover, it is no coincidence that in the summary adopted in Prague, the CIS Almaty Declaration was adopted as the basis for the recognition of territorial integrity between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Such formulation of the problem stems from Russia's interests. Russia is the successor of the USSR. Therefore, it is simply not possible to bypass Moscow in the issues of Armenian-Azerbaijani border demarcation and relations regulation. It is also impossible to achieve the strategic defeat of Russia in Ukraine. Even American experts admit that "Crimea will no longer be Ukrainian". Russia maintains a place of tactical retreat. Of course, it is not a strong resource for an agreement with the USA, but the threat of a nuclear confrontation is more objective. In our case, it is fundamental that both Moscow, Washington, and Paris accept the non-settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh problem. Will they be able to make this certification look consolidated? That is the most important question.

Vahram Atanesyan