At least 100 dead in clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan
At least a hundred Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers were killed on Tuesday in the heaviest fighting since the two countries went to war in 2020, with the international community calling for “restraint” and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
“Fifty Azerbaijani soldiers were killed after a large-scale Armenian provocation” at the border between the two countries, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement in the evening.
For his part, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinian reported in the morning that 49 Armenian soldiers were killed during an intervention in front of the parliament in Yerevan, specifying that “unfortunately, this is not the definitive number”.
The two countries accuse each other of inciting hostilities.
The eruption of violence comes as Moscow, which deployed a peacekeeping force to the region after the 2020 war, grapples with the difficulties of its military offensive in Ukraine.
When Russia announced a ceasefire that had been in effect since 0600 GMT, Azerbaijan in the afternoon accused Armenia of “intensely” violating it.
“Despite a ceasefire (…) units of the Armenian Armed Forces (…) opened artillery fire against the positions of the Azerbaijani army” on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said, citing “response measures” to these footage.
However, Baku assured earlier in the day that it had “accomplished all its objectives” in fighting on the border with Armenia.
“Despite a sharp drop in the intensity of the shelling, the enemy is still trying to advance,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said.
– calls for restraint –
Armenia and Azerbaijan, two rival ex-Soviet republics in the Caucasus, have clashed in two wars over the past three decades for control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the last of which in 2020.
The new fighting that broke out overnight shows just how explosive the situation is.
Mr Pashinian urged the international community to react during talks with several foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron.
During that phone call, “President Macron explained to President (Azerbaijan) Aliyev the urgency of ending hostilities and returning to respect for the ceasefire,” the French Presidency noted.
The European Union called for a cessation of hostilities and announced that European Council President Charles Michel, who is leading a mediation between Yerevan and Baku, will hold discussions with the two warring factions.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to urge them to make peace. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the two countries to “take immediate steps to defuse tensions”.
Russia is “extremely concerned” and calling for “restraint,” Kremlin adviser Yuri Uchakov told reporters.
The Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-led military alliance, met Tuesday night via videoconference with the participation of Vladimir Putin at the request of Yerevan, the Kremlin said.
– Russia “in bad shape” –
Mr Putin is “personally committed” and making “every possible effort to help ease tensions,” the Kremlin said.
If there have been regular clashes between the two countries along their shared border since the end of the 2020 war, Tuesday’s fighting is an unprecedented event.
“The escalation follows an impasse in the peace talks,” said analyst Tatoul Hakobian, for whom the conflict in Ukraine “changed the balance of power in the region” and that Russia, supporting Armenia, was “in bad shape”. .
According to him, Baku wants to use this situation to “obtain concessions from Armenia as soon as possible.”
But for Farid Chafiev, president of the Center for the Analysis of International Relations in Baku, “a major obstacle to peace” is quite simply “the illegal presence of Armenian soldiers” in Azerbaijan, in relation to Nagorno-Karabakh.
– Karabakh powder keg –
The historically complicated relations between Yerevan and Baku continue to be poisoned by their dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave populated mostly by Armenians who seceded from Azerbaijan with Armenian support.
After a first war that cost the lives of more than 30,000 people in the early 1990s, clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over control of this mountain region broke out again in autumn 2020.
More than 6,500 people were killed in this new war, which Armenia lost.
Yerevan ceded significant territory to Azerbaijan as part of a ceasefire agreement brokered by Moscow at the time, which sent peacekeeping troops to Nagorno-Karabakh.
This result was experienced as a humiliation in Armenia.
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