By Anthony Marcus, for Eurasia Business News, September 13, 2022
CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas will lead the organization’s mission to Armenia, reported the secretariat following a session of its Members States today. Their task will be to assess the situation in the conflict zone with Azerbaijan, preparation of a report to the heads of Member States and development of proposals for de-escalation of tensions. The mission will also include the Chief of the CSTO Joint Staff, Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov and representatives of Member states.
In addition, following the session, the CSTO Collective Security Council agreed to create a working group to constantly monitor the situation in its area of responsibility.
The CSTO Permanent Council expressed extreme concern about the situation on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan and considered proposals for the use of CSTO settlement mechanisms, the organization’s spokesman Vladimir Zainetdinov said.
“On September 13, at the initiative of the Armenian side, an emergency meeting of the Permanent Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization was held with the participation of the leadership of the CSTO Secretariat and the Chief of the Joint Staff, Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov”, said the spokesman after the meeting
An online emergency meeting of the CSTO Collective Security Council was held today upon request of Armenia. On Tuesday night at the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan hostilities broke out. Both parties accused each other of provocations. Yerevan turned to Russia, CSTO and to the UN Security Council for help.
Armenian officials reported that the Azerbaijani military opened artillery fire against targets located on the Armenrian territory. The Armenia’s Defense ministry said that on September 13 at 00:05 local time, the Azerbaijani military opened “intensive fire in the direction of the cities of Goris, Sotk and Jermuk using artillery, large-caliber and small arms.”
Yerevan claims that Baku used armed drones, and also took “actions to advance positions” in some areas. Areas on the border were attacked – Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor, Syunik regions (connects Armenia with Iran), that are not related to Nagorno-Karabakh, the separatist republic.
Speaking in the Armenian parliament, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that “the attack of the Azerbaijani side continues only in one or two directions” out of six or seven.
In response, Azerbaijan said that Armenia shelled the positions of Azerbaijani troops on the border, which is why clashes began. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Azerbaijani Republic accused Armenia of trying to disrupt the peace process. According to Baku, Yerevan slowed down the process of normalizing relations and “demonstrated a destructive position” in international negotiations.
According to the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, during the escalation, 49 people died, adding that these are not the final figures. Azerbaijan also claimed casualties among its military, but did not name their number.
President Vladimir Putin informed members of the Collective Security Council about “additional practical steps by the Russian side aimed at de-escalating the tensions that have arisen,” the secretariat said in a statement. They stressed that the CSTO members supported Russia’s mediation efforts.
By the morning, Russia, working as a mediator, was able to negotiate a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that Moscow is in close contact with Baku and Yerevan. Russia called Armenia and Azerbaijan to fix all controversial issues by diplomatic means.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday evening that in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh over the past day, no ceasefire violations were recorded.
Presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey Ilham Aliyev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border during a telephone conversation on Tuesday, and also exchanged views on future contacts. Turkey is an ally and a weapons supplier for Azerbaijan.
On March 26, Russian military officials stated 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.
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.
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