Armenia, Azerbaijan Clashes: War fears grow as truce violated
Armenia and Azerbaijan yesterday accused each other of violating a truce, after the worst clashes since a 2020 war put in doubt a halting peace process between the arch foes.
Russia announced on Tuesday that it had negotiated a ceasefire following fighting that killed at least 100 Azerbaijani and Armenian troops.
But yesterday, Armenia's defence ministry said "the enemy re-launched its attack by using artillery, mortar, large-calibre firearms in the directions of Jermuk, Verin Shorzha" on the border.
In an interview with Reuters, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan said
"there is a clear risk" that the clashes might turn into a full-blown war.
The Azerbaijani defence ministry said Armenian forces "violated the ceasefire... and shelled Azerbaijani positions near Kelbajar and Lachin with mortars and artillery."
Tuesday's escalation came as Yerevan's closest ally Moscow is distracted by its six-month-old war against Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a delegation of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) -- a Moscow-led grouping of ex-Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan -- was due to arrive in Yerevan later yesterday.
On Tuesday, Armenia's security council asked for military help from Moscow, which is obligated under the treaty to defend Armenia in the event of foreign invasion.
The European Union, United States, France, Russia, Iran, and Turkey all expressed concern over the escalation and called for an end to fighting.
The neighbours fought two wars -- in the 1990s and in 2020 -- over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan's Armenian-populated enclave.
The six weeks of fighting in autumn 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 troops from both sides and ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire.
Under the deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades and Moscow deployed about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the fragile truce, which analyst Vasadze called "neither war, nor peace."
Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The ensuing conflict claimed around 30,000 lives.