By William Miller, special correspondent in Russia. Eurasia Business News, March 26, 2022.
The Russian Defense Ministry stated today that the Azerbaijani military violated the trilateral agreements on Karabakh, entered the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers and fired at units of the Karabakh army with Turkish armed drones.
“From March 24 to 25, the armed forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan, violating the provisions of the tripartite statement of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia of November 9, 2020, entered the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and set up an observation post. Four strikes were carried out by an unmanned aerial vehicle of the Bayraktar-TB2 type on units of the armed formations of Nagorno-Karabakh in the area of the village of Furukh,” announced the Russian Defense Ministry on its website.
“Currently, the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent is taking measures to resolve the situation and return the troops to their original position. A call has been sent to the Azerbaijani side to withdraw troops“, added the Russian officials.
Earlier, the press service of the head of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic announced the introduction of martial law. The NKR authorities also asked the Russian President to increase the number of servicemen of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and military equipment in the region.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry rejected accusations of violating the trilateral agreements on Karabakh.
The situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border remains unstable since the armed conflict that took place between September and October 2020, with the stakes of controlling the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, populated by Armenians since the end of the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in May 1994. This second war ended with the victory of Azerbaijan, which took control of 4 districts, as well as the cities of Shushi and Hadrut in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russian peacekeepers are currently stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the Latchin corridor, a mountain pass that connects the region to Armenia. The corridor is de jure in the Latchin district of Azerbaijan, but is under the control of a Russian peacekeeping force as provided for in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh Armistice Agreement, obtained through Russian intervention.
Military casualties and civilian casualties were numerous on the Armenian side during the conflict from September to October 2020. Civilian areas, including major cities, were affected, including Azerbaijan’s second largest city, Ganja, as well as Stepanakert, the capital of the Armenian Republic of Artsakh, established in Nagorno-Karabakh. Many buildings and homes were destroyed by the bombing. The Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi was also damaged by fire from Azerbaijani forces.
The balance remains fragile and only the current presence of Russian military can contain tensions at the borders.
Update to come.
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