The Daily Telegraph

100 killed in renewed clashes on Armenia-azerbaijan border

- By Nataliya Vasilyeva

FIGHTING on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan has killed about 100 troops in the worst outbreak of fighting between the two nations since the 2020 ceasefire accords.

Armenia’s defence ministry said yesterday that Azerbaijan’s forces used heavy artillery, drones and small arms to target eastern Armenian towns outside Nagorno-karabakh, once the epicentre of a long-running conflict, late on Monday.

Armenia said at least 49 of its soldiers were killed; Azerbaijan said it lost 50.

Separately, Armenia released footage allegedly showing Azerbaijan­i soldiers trying to cross the Armenian border. Azerbaijan insisted it simply responded to a provocatio­n of the Armenian military that allegedly planted landmines near its supply lines, but the attack on areas previously untouched by the long-standing conflict appears to be unpreceden­ted.

Just a few days earlier at a conference call with other heads of state and Russian president Vladimir Putin, Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s prime minister, voiced concern that Azerbaijan may be tempted to attack his country while Russia, Armenia’s main ally, is busy fighting a protracted war in Ukraine.

The Kremlin mediated a 2020 ceasefire agreement ending a month-long war over Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-karabakh region.

About 2,000 Russian peacekeepe­rs are still stationed there.

Early yesterday Russia again brokered a cessation of hostilitie­s but renewed, albeit less intense fighting was reported an hour later, Mr Pashinyan told the Armenian parliament. The Armenian leader asked Mr Putin for military assistance under their obligation­s as members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisati­on.

Moscow has not commented on the request but Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesman, said that the president was “making every effort to contribute to the de-escalation of tensions on the border”.

The Organisati­on for Security and Co-operation in Europe called for a truce, urging the parties not to “squander” the 2020 ceasefire deal that has largely held for two years.

In related developmen­ts, the office of French President Emmanuel Macron promised to bring up the hostilitie­s at the UN Security Council this week and Turkey threw its weight behind Azerbaijan as Hulusi Akar, the country’s defence minister, accused Armenia of provoking the fighting and pledged to stand by Baku “in its just cause”.

The clashes broke out less than two weeks before Armenia was to transfer to Azerbaijan the so-called Lachin corridor, a mountain road between Armenia and Nagorno-karabakh.

Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of dragging its feet on implementi­ng parts of the ceasefire deal and repeatedly breaking it, a claim that Yerevan has denied.

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