Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: ceasefire reported after new border clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh


Azerbaijan has not heard of a truce to end the deadliest exchanges between the countries since 2020.

Russia is the main diplomatic force in the region and maintains 2,000 blue helmets there. Moscow brokered the deal that ended the 2020 fighting – dubbed the Second Karabakh War – in which hundreds died.

Russian news agencies quoted Armen Grigoryan, secretary of the Armenian Security Council, as saying on Armenian television: “Thanks to the involvement of the international community, an agreement has been reached on a ceasefire.”

The announcement said the truce had been in effect for several hours. Armenia’s Defense Ministry earlier said firing in border areas had stopped.

Each side blames the other for the new clashes.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan previously told parliament that 105 Armenian servicemen had been killed since the violence began this week.

Azerbaijan reported 50 military deaths on the first day of fighting. Reuters was unable to verify the accounts of either party.

Grigory Karasin, a senior official in Russia’s upper house of parliament, told the RIA news agency that the truce was achieved largely thanks to Russian diplomatic efforts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with Pashinyan, he said. Putin called for calm after the violence broke out and other countries called for restraint on both sides.

In his speech to parliament, Pashinyan said his country had called on the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization to help restore its territorial integrity.

“If we say that Azerbaijan carried out aggression against Armenia, it means that they managed to establish control over certain territories,” Russian agency Tass quoted Russian agency Tass as saying.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting for decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave recognized as part of Azerbaijan while home to a large Armenian population.

Fighting first broke out towards the end of Soviet rule and Armenian forces took control of large swaths of territory in and around it in the early 1990s. Azerbaijan, backed by the Turkey, largely recaptured these territories in six weeks in 2020.

Skirmishes have since broken out periodically despite meetings between Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev aimed at reaching a comprehensive peace settlement.

Domestic discontent in Armenia over the 2020 defeat has sparked repeated protests against Pashinyan, who has dismissed reports that he has signed a deal with Baku.

In a Facebook post, he accused the reports of “informational sabotage directed by hostile forces.”

A full-fledged conflict would risk dragging on in Russia and Turkey, and destabilizing an important corridor for oil and gas pipelines, just as the war in Ukraine is disrupting energy supplies.

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan said the clashes could escalate into a war – a second major armed conflict in the former Soviet Union as the Russian military focuses on Ukraine.

Azerbaijan has accused Armenia, which is in a military alliance with Moscow and home to a Russian military base, of bombing its army units.

Baku said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with US State Department Caucasus adviser Philip Reeker, telling him Armenia must withdraw from Azeri territory.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Russia could either “stir the pot” or use its influence to help “calm the waters”.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, during a call with her counterparts from both countries, also called for “an end to the strikes against Armenian territory”.


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