Armenia accused Azerbaijan of an attack

ARomania accused Azerbaijan of shelling its territory, while US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called for an end to fighting that threatens to undermine a Russian-brokered truce.

“The United States is deeply concerned about reports of attacks along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, including reported strikes against settlements and civilian infrastructure in Armenia,” Blinken said in a statement posted Monday on the State Department’s website. “We demand an immediate cessation of all military hostilities.”

Armenia’s defense ministry said Azerbaijani forces began shelling its positions early Tuesday. Azerbaijan shelled the southern Armenian cities of Goris, Kapan and Jermuk and also used drones, he said, adding that the number of casualties was still being ascertained.

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Azerbaijan’s defense ministry denied launching the attacks and said its forces were carrying out “local countermeasures in response to large-scale Armenian provocation”. It says that there was no invasion of Armenian territory.

The fighting is the latest flare-up of tensions between the two neighboring Caucasian states since thousands were killed in a 44-day war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was halted in November 2020 when Russian President Vladimir Putin brokered a truce.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attends the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum on September 7, 2022 in Vladivostok, Russia.  (Contributor/Getty Images)

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attends the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum on September 7, 2022 in Vladivostok, Russia.

Contributor/Getty Images

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke to Blinken on the phone about the border fighting. Pashinyan also spoke with Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron, his office said.

Russia, the US and France are members of the so-called Minsk Group of mediators, which have been trying for decades to negotiate a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which erupted during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Pashinyan held a meeting of Armenia’s Security Council, which decided to turn to Russia for help under the 1997 mutual defense treaty. There was no immediate official response from Moscow.

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Russia has a military base in Armenia and has sent 2,000 peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh as part of a 2020 ceasefire agreement.

In August, the Azerbaijani army retook the town of Lachin, which lies along a road connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, for the first time in 30 years as part of a ceasefire agreement. During the war, Azerbaijan took control of part of Nagorno-Karabakh and reclaimed seven surrounding districts that had been occupied by Armenian troops since the 1990s.

Despite the ceasefire, Azerbaijan and Armenia have yet to reach a peace agreement and sporadic fighting continues, although the two countries have held talks to try to delineate their common border and open transport routes.

Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met on August 31 in Brussels to discuss progress in the search for a peace agreement.

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