Russia attempts to lay down cold sheets after fierce clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Russia attempts to lay down cold sheets after fierce clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan

YEREVAN.- Armenia announced on Tuesday the death of at least 49 of its soldiers in border clashes with Azerbaijanthe worst battles between the two rival countries since their 2020 war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russia, which proclaims itself an arbiter in the Caucasus and has deployed peacekeeping troops to the region, says it has brokered a ceasefire between the two countries, which entered into force at 6:00 GMT, but this has not yet been confirmed by either Baku or Yerevan.

“At the moment we have 49 [militares] dead and, unfortunately, this is not the definitive number,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian told parliament.

Armenia and Azerbaijan, two rival former Soviet republics in the Caucasus, fought two wars in the last three decades for the control of the Nagorno-Karabakh regionthe last of which took place in 2020.

A view of Stepanakert, the main city of Nagorno-KarabakhAFP

The resumption of fighting, which broke out on Monday evening, illustrates an unstable situation persists and threatens to derail a fragile European-mediated peace process.

Azerbaijan acknowledged there had been “casualties” in the clashes, but did not say exactly how many at the time.

Pashinyan denounced an “aggression” by Azerbaijan and, in telephone conversations during the night, He asked for a reaction from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Frenchman Emmanuel Macron or the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken.

In these appeals, Pashinyan said he was waiting for “an appropriate response from the international community”, according to statements by the Armenian government.

Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, addressed the Parliament today
Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, addressed the Parliament todayDOCUMENT – National Assembly of the Republic

“With this escalation, Azerbaijan is undermining the peace processin progress between Yerevan and Baku with the mediation of the European Union, declared the Armenian Prime Minister.

He added that the intensity of the hostilities, which erupted shortly after midnight, “decreased” in the morning.

Shortly before the announcement of the death of its soldiers, the Armenian Defense Ministry said that the Azerbaijani army, supported by artillery and drones, was trying to enter its territory.

Video image released by Armenia shows Azerbaijani troops crossing the border
Video image released by Armenia shows Azerbaijani troops crossing the borderArmenian Ministry of Defense

“Azerbaijani forces continue to use artillery, trench mortars, drones and large-caliber rifles,” the ministry said, accusing Azerbaijan of targeting “military and civilian infrastructure.”

Azerbaijan accused Armenia of “large-scale subversive acts” overnight, adding that the firing by troops in Yerevan had caused “casualties” in its ranks.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that a ceasefire was in effect from 6:00 GMT, and asked both sides to “respect” it. Russia ‘extremely concerned’ about renewed fightinghe added.

“It is difficult to overestimate the role of the Russian Federation, the role of Putin personally”Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“The president, naturally, is doing everything he can to help defuse border tensions,” he added.

For its part, Armenia denounced an “intensive bombardment” of its positions shortly after midnight in various places such as Goris or Sotk.

The United States said overnight it was “extremely concerned” about the situation and called for an immediate end to the fighting.

France said it would take the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan to the UN Security Council.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at odds over the Nagorno-Karabakh region for decades, part of Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenian forces since a war of independence that ended in 1994. Azerbaijan regained control of much of the territory in 2020, in a war of six weeks that claimed more than 6,600 lives and ended with a peace agreement brokered by Russia.

As part of the deal, Armenia ceded parts of territory it had controlled for decades and Moscow sent some 2,000 troops to oversee the fragile truce.

Armenia, a Christian country since the 4th century, it has had a turbulent history since its independence in 1991. This impoverished and landlocked state has been the scene of several revolts, violent repressions and controversial elections in a context of clientelism and authoritarianism by the various leaders who performed in Power.

In the spring of 2018, a peaceful revolution brought current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to power. The latter took anti-corruption measures and introduced fairly popular judicial reforms, but faced calls to resign over the 2020 deal to return parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, which sparked mass protests.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev today with his military high command
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev today with his military high commandDOCUMENT – Azerbaijani Presidency

Azerbaijan, a Shia land on the shores of the Caspian Sea, it has been ruled by the same family since 1993. Heydar Aliyev, a former Soviet KGB general, ruled the country with an iron fist until October 2003, handing over power to his son, Ilham, a few weeks before dying.

Like his father, Ilham Aliyev let no opposition emerge, but Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in the Karabakh War in 2020 boosted its popularity.

AFP, AP and Reuters agencies

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