Fighting has erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the most violent clashes since the conclusion of their 2020 war over Nagorno-Karabakh. Each side placed responsibility for the outbreak of hostilities on the other. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia claims fifty of his country’s troops were killed in overnight clashes with Azeri forces. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry in turn, offered an explanation which accused Armenia of conducting ‘large-scale provocations’ that prompted retaliation. Earlier today, Pashinyan claimed the tempo of hostilities had decreased somewhat, however, Azeri attacks on Armenian positions continue.
The Russian foreign ministry has announced it brokered a ceasefire between the two nations early Tuesday, although this has yet to be independently confirmed. There is a considerable number of Russian peacekeepers to the region and Moscow has made great efforts to be viewed as the arbiter in the Caucuses, a volatile area.
Russia’s engagement in Ukraine and the recent battlefield setbacks it has suffered there might have enticed Azerbaijan and Armenia to act with less caution. This sudden escalation is leading to concern that Russia could find itself engaged in a second war near its border. It is in Moscow’s best interest to prevent a fresh conflict from breaking out now. Especially with Vladimir Putin set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday at the Shanghai Cooperative Organization meeting in Uzbekistan.
Fighting between Azeri and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh has continued into a fifth day with the intensity of the clashes increasing. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has stated the war will only end once his nation’s territorial sovereignty is restored. In other words the Azeri drive into Nagorno-Karabakh will not be coming to a halt in the near future. Armenia continues to resist and there are rumors circulating that the Armenian government is contemplating an official recognition Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. This might be viewed as a desperate move but with the fighting going decidedly in Azerbaijan’s favor so far, the Armenians might have little choice.
On the international front, Armenia has withdrawn its ambassador to Israel as a protest over Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani government has openly admitted using Israeli-made drones in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Both Azerbaijan and Armenia have defied international calls for a ceasefire. The United States, France, and Russia have condemned the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. In a joint statement, the leaders of the three nations have called for an immediate end to the fighting. “We also call on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to immediately commit themselves to resume negotiations on the substance of the settlement in good faith and without preconditions,” the statement read. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went against the grain stating that a ceasefire was only possible when Armenia ended its ‘occupation’ of Azerbaijani territory. Erdogan’s comments were made shortly after France accused Turkey of transporting Syrian mercenaries to join the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey and Azerbaijan have denied reports that Ankara has sent fighters to the Southern Caucuses.