| 10 December 2023, Sunday |

Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan demands enclave’s surrender

The Russian Foreign Ministry has released a statement calling upon all parties involved to bring an end to the violence in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“In connection with the sharp escalation of the armed confrontation in Nagorno-Karabakh, we urge the conflicting parties to immediately stop the bloodshed, stop hostilities and eliminate civilian casualties,” the ministry said in a statement posted to Telegram.

Russian peacekeeping forces were deployed to the region under the 2020 ceasefire agreement to keep fresh violence from breaking out in the region.

The fighting comes at a time when tensions between Armenia and its longtime ally Russia remain high.

The tensions stem from Armenia complaining about Russian forces not doing enough to keep the road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia open. In turn, Armenia angered Russia by holding military exercises with the US this month.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and urged him to “immediately cease military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

“It is crucial for Azerbaijan to deescalate the situation to promote a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Blinken wrote on X, the media platform formerly known as Twitter.
The local administration in Nagorno-Karabakh, which calls itself the Republic of Artsakh, reported 25 fatalities in the fighting late on Tuesday.

The regional administration’s rights ombudsman, Gegham Stepanyan, said two civilians were among the dead.

He said the figures had come from a local morgue in the largest city in Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert.

Stepanyan said that 138 people, 29 of them civlians, had sustained injuries and that six villages had been evacuated in response to Azerbaijani shelling.

The spearatist government also said the international community shared blame for the latest fighting.

“By ignoring warnings about Azerbaijan’s criminal intentions and refusing to act accordingly, all the responsible international actors faile dto prevent yet another Azerbaijani [act of] aggression against Artsakh,” it said.
Soon after news of Azerbaijan’s military intervention in Nagorno-Karabakh spread, protesters began to gather in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

TV images captured some of them clashing with police and trying to break a cordon to reach government buildings. Public dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the conflict, after Armenia lost ground in the war of 2020, has been fairly commonplace in recent years. Opposition parties also accuse the government of being weak on Nagorno-Karabakh.

The protesters called for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign, while Pashinyan spoke of an attempted “coup” against him.

Later on Tuesday evening, Armenia’s security council warned of the potential for large-scale unrest and said it would start taking countermeasures.

“There is currently a real danger of mass turmoil in the Republic of Armenia. The NSC [National Security Council] will take effective measures to maintain constitutional order in the coutry,” it said in a statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told those gathered at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday that Azerbaijan had every right to undertake “steps to preserve its territorial integrity.”

“Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory,” Erdogan said, telling the UN that any other status for the territory “will never be accepted.”

Earlier in the day, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said: “As a result of the legitimate and justified concerns it has repeatedly expressed regarding the situation on the ground in the nearly three years since the end of the Second Karabakh War, Azerbaijan has had to take the measures it deems necessary on its own sovereign territory.”

Turkey, a long-time ally of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan, said Nagorno-Karabakh — an ethnic-Armenian Christian enclave — had brought the attack upon itself through “longstanding armed attacks and provocations” on Azerbaijani forces in the region.

Still, Turkish diplomats urged all parties to return to peace talks.

“We believe that ensuring the continuation of the comprehensive negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia… is the only way to establish peace, security, prosperity and permanent stability in the region,” read a Turkish statement.

During the 2020 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Ankara supplied Azerbaijan with Turkish combat drones and other military equipment that helped Baku take back large tracts of land lost during armed conflict with separatists back in the 1990s.

  • DW