While the world is looking at Ukraine and Russia, a brewing all-out war is happening between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Fighting on the border of Azerbaijan and Armenia has started, and as two troops faced each other today, 99 soldiers were killed in the skirmish, with both sides taking hits. Armenia reported losing 49 of their soldiers, while Azerbaijan noted they lost 50. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades-long conflict over the area of Nagorno-Karabakh. This region was considered part of Azerbaijan but had been controlled by Armenian ethnic forces since the separatist war ended in 1994.
During the last week of August, Azerbaijan stated its move and tried to reclaim the city near Nagorno-Karabakh. President lham Aliyev announced that their troops had moved to the city of Lachin and nearby villages.
“I congratulate Lachin residents and the entire people of Azerbaijan,” Aliyev said.
Lachin is a strategic location since it sits on a road that connects Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. Aliyev’s move to conquer the region allows them to block Armenian troops from receiving any support from the mainland.
Then, in 2020, Azerbaijan reclaimed a large portion of Nagorno-Karabakh during a six-week war that killed more than 6,600 people. However, Russia intervened and brokered a peace deal between the countries. Moscow then deployed around 2,000 troops to help liaise the deal. In the present war, Russia is still keen to be involved even though they have their own problems at home, dealing with the Ukrainians.
Russian Foreign Ministry said they are urging both parties “to refrain from further escalation and show restraint.” Moscow would no doubt be invested in peace-making between countries for political and economic reasons. Armenia is a good trade partner for Russia as well as a host for one of its military bases. On the other hand, Azerbaijan is an oil-rich country that Russia’s looking to partner with in the future.
“We expect that an agreement reached as a result of Russian mediation on a ceasefire … will be carried out in full,” the Russian foreign ministry.
The international community also reached out to both leaders to find a way to de-escalate as soon as possible. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged both presidents “to take immediate steps to deescalate tensions, exercise maximum restraint and resolve any outstanding issues through dialogue.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had reportedly reached out to Moscow and spoke with Putin for potential intervention. Then, Pashinyan called French President Emmanual Macron, European Council President Charles Michel, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by phone with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, according to reports.
The US is also involved in the peace-brokering process. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reached out to both nation leaders and said that their envoy would help them find common ground. Blinken added that he hopes “we can move this from conflict back to the negotiating table and back to trying to build a peace.”
“As we have long made clear, there can be no military solution to the conflict,” Blinken said in an earlier statement. “We urge an end to any military hostilities immediately.”
However, continued shelling happened in the last 24 hours, with Pashinyan accusing Azerbaijan of having an immovable stance on the brokered talks in Brussels.
Then, both nations started blaming each other for the outcome of their shelling. Turkey, Azerbaijan-favored nation, blamed Armenia for its extreme violence in the region. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country fully supports Azerbaijans, who are “brotherly… in all matters.”
Azerbaijan is also saying it was Armenia who started the shelling, and they’re only taking arms because they needed to defend themselves.
“Our positions are periodically being fired on at the moment,” Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said. “Our units are taking the necessary response measures.”
Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister Elnur Mammadov also accused Armenians of shelling private citizen’s establishments and claimed that Armenia is planning for a “large-scale provocation.”
At present, the two countries intend to extend the cross-fires for the next couple of days amid cautious warnings from various countries and their envoys to stop.
“As we have long made clear, there can be no military solution to the conflict,” Blinken said in a statement. “We urge an end to any military hostilities immediately.”