Canada's government has announced the ambassador who is to helm a new embassy in Armenia at a time of escalating military conflict in neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Andrew Turner, a career diplomat, will be posted to Yerevan as soon as next month, as the Liberals try to form closer ties with countries moving away from Russia's orbit.

Turner's background primarily involves postings in the Middle East, though he has also helped shape Ottawa's response to tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Canada has a large Armenian diaspora, and the Liberals have argued that an embassy will help build up Ottawa's knowledge of the Caucasus region, while helping foreigners with visas and Canadians with passport services.

The news comes as Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, says Azerbaijan might be undertaking "ethnic cleansing" of Armenians in its Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has issued statements calling on Azerbaijan to stop escalating tensions, and the NDP have asked her to start imposing sanctions on officials in that country.