Russia, one of Turkey’s closest allies in recent times, has expressed willingness to roll up its sleeves to undertake a mediating role between Ankara and Yerevan amid frozen political ties between the two countries. Visiting the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that they are willing to mediate between Turkey and Armenia in order to normalize relations between the two neighboring countries. Political ties between Ankara and Yerevan remain frozen because of the Karabakh conflict as well as the legacy of killings during World War I, which the Armenian diaspora and government describe as "genocide" – a description which Turkey refutes. Ankara argues that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops. The Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh - a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia - led to the closing of the frontier with Turkey, which sides with Baku in the drawn-out dispute. For instance, the Khojaly Massacre is commemorated every year in Turkey and regarded as one of the bloodiest and most controversial incidents of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of the now-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region between 1988 and 1994.
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