What is behind the outbreak of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict? | Explanatory news

Dozens of Armenian soldiers have reportedly been killed in further border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Dozens of Armenian soldiers have reportedly been killed in fresh border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in the worst fighting since hostile enemies were drawn into a 2020 war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

After several hours of fierce border fighting on Tuesday night, Armenia appealed to world leaders for help, saying Azerbaijani forces were trying to advance on its territory.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan demanded from world leaders “an adequate reaction” to “Azerbaijan’s acts of aggression”.

Russia, Armenia’s closest ally, said it had convinced the historic rivals to agree to a quick ceasefire.

What happened?

  • Armenia said Azerbaijani forces “launched heavy shelling, with artillery and high-caliber firearms, against Armenian military positions towards the towns of Goris, Sotk and Jermuk” shortly after midnight.
  • Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry accused Armenia of “large-scale subversive acts” near Dashkesan, Kelbajar and Lachin districts on the border, adding that its military positions “came under fire, including trench mortars “.
  • Elnur Mammadov, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister, said: “Armenia has been shelling Azerbaijani military positions for a few weeks now. These bombings have intensified in recent days. Armenia began amassing heavy weapons and armaments along the alleged Armenia-Azerbaijan border. What happened overnight is a full-scale provocation by the Armenian military against Azerbaijani positions as well as the bombardment of civilian infrastructure and employees.
  • According to Pashinyan, 49 Armenian soldiers have been killed, and the number is expected to increase.
  • Azerbaijan did not mention whether it suffered any military casualties.

How have world leaders reacted?

  • Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, has told Yerevan to ‘stop its provocations’ against Baku, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying on Twitter that the country should instead ‘focus on peace negotiations and cooperation ” with his neighbor.
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was deeply concerned by reports of the attacks and called for “an immediate end to all military hostilities”, adding that “there can be no military solution to the conflict”.
  • Russia said it was “extremely concerned” by the upsurge in fighting.
  • Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said the bloc was “ready to make efforts to prevent further escalation”, adding that there was “no alternative to peace and stability in the region”.Map of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh

Has a ceasefire been reached?

  • The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had successfully brokered a truce which began at 9:00 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.

What is the context of the conflict?

  • At the heart of the conflict between the former Soviet republics is the hotly contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where two wars were fought in the 1990s and most recently in 2020.
  • The enclave is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, but it is populated by ethnic Armenians who either want to secede or join Armenia.
  • Azerbaijan considers that ethnic Armenians illegally occupy their lands.
  • At least 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, after Armenian separatists split from Azerbaijan.
  • The 2020 six-week war over Nagorno-Karabakh killed at least 6,500 people and ended in a Russian-brokered truce.
  • As part of the deal, Armenia ceded swaths of territory it had controlled for decades and Moscow deployed around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the fragile ceasefire.

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