Armenia lost at least 49 soldiers in the latest border clashes with Azerbaijan early on September 13, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said, amid international calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the two sworn enemies in the Caucasus.
There have been frequent outbreaks along their shared border since the end of the 2020 war between Yerevan and Baku over Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“At 00:05 a.m. on Tuesday (September 13), Azerbaijan launched an intensive shelling, with artillery and large-caliber firearms, against Armenian military positions in the direction of the towns of Goris, Sotk and Jermuk” , the Armenian Defense Ministry said. .
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, in turn, accused Armenia of “large-scale subversive acts” near the Dashkesan, Kelbajar and Lachin districts on the border, adding that its military positions “had come under fire. , including trench mortars”.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have blamed each other for the latest escalation in the countries’ decades-old dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.
In a speech to the Armenian parliament, Pashinian said that Baku attacked Armenian positions overnight and the fighting continued.
“At the moment we have 49 [soldiers] killed and unfortunately this is not the final figure,” Pashinian told parliament.
The Armenian government also said it would invoke a cooperation agreement with Moscow and appeal to the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization – a regional security bloc – as well as the UN Security Council. .
The Kremlin said on September 13 that Russian President Vladimir Putin was doing everything he could to help defuse hostilities.
“The president is doing everything to help de-escalate tensions on the border. These efforts are continuing,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a press briefing.
Asked if Moscow intends to do anything in connection with Yerevan’s call for help at the CSTO, Peskov declined to elaborate.
“I wouldn’t want to say more now. Since the works, various agreements, etc., I wouldn’t want anything to be announced before the end of the approval process,” Peskov said.
Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry said a ceasefire had been agreed from 9 a.m. Moscow time (0600 GMT).
“We expect an agreement reached following Russian mediation on a ceasefire… to be fully implemented,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it was ” extremely concerned” by the upsurge in fighting.
But Azerbaijani media said the ceasefire collapsed minutes after it took effect.
Earlier, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said its forces were responding to Armenian provocations and denied allegations that they were hitting civilian infrastructure.
“The Azerbaijani Armed Forces are undertaking limited and targeted measures, neutralizing Armenian firing positions,” it said in a statement.
“There are losses among [Azerbaijani] soldiers,” the ministry said, without giving figures.
Pashinian phoned world leaders Sept. 13 to demand “an adequate response,” his office said. Pashinian called Putin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Armenian Defense Ministry also said that the Russian and Armenian defense ministers held talks on September 13 and agreed to take steps to stabilize the situation on the border.
Earlier, Blinken in a report called for an end to the conflict and expressed Washington’s “deep concern” over the situation, including “reported strikes against settlements and civilian infrastructure” in Armenia.
“As we have long made clear, there can be no military solution to the conflict,” Blinken said in a statement. “We call for the immediate end of all military hostilities.”
Turkey, a traditional ally of Azerbaijan, has blamed Armenia for the latest outbreak, urging Yerevan to “stop provocations” against Baku.
“Armenia must stop its provocations and focus on peace negotiations and cooperation with Azerbaijan,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. tweeted after a phone call with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov.
In a phone call with Pashinian on September 13, the EU’s Charles Michel urged both sides to prevent further escalation.
Michel, President of the European Council, said the EU was “ready to make efforts to prevent further escalation” and said there was “no alternative to peace and stability in the region,” according to an Armenian reading of the appeal.
Armenia lost control of parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts after a six-week war at the end of 2020 that left more than 6,500 dead and ended in a ceasefire brokered by the Russia. An estimated 2,000 Russian troops have been deployed to monitor the situation.
The latest outbreak follows a flare-up of fighting from August 1-3 in which at least one Azerbaijani soldier and two ethnic Armenian soldiers were killed.
Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders have met several times to work out a treaty aimed at establishing a lasting peace after the 2020 conflict.
The last such meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Pashinian took place on August 31 in Brussels and was brokered by the European Union.