Despite a ceasefire, Armenia and Azerbaijan clash again

Despite a ceasefire, Armenia and Azerbaijan clash again
Mourners attend the funeral of Azerbaijani Armed Forces serviceman Sabuhi Ahmadov, who was killed in recent border clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia, in Baku, Azerbaijan September 14, 2022. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov

As longtime adversaries, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been involved in a conflict that’s lasted more than 30 years. The clash is over both countries claiming a region called Nagorno-Karabakh. This area is part of Azerbaijan but is mostly populated by ethnic Armenians and under the control of ethnic Armenian forces. The fighting started in 1988 when the region tried to join Armenia after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the resulting conflict left around 30,000 dead and a million displaced. In 2020, Azerbaijan reclaimed control over parts of Nagorno-Karabakh through an operation called “Iron Fist." Then, Russian peacekeepers worked out a peace deal for the most part, which kept the conflict from escalating.

That is, until Tuesday. Despite this peace deal, fighting again broke out between the two, with 155 casualties reported. Russia has tried to install a new cease-fire, but it hasn’t held. Both sides blame each other for instigating violence. Armenia is accusing Azerbaijani forces of launching combat drones and shelling with artillery and mortars. And Azerbaijan says Armenia shelled two of its districts outside of Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict could exacerbate the ongoing energy crisis across Europe, and the EU’s recent deal with oil and gas-rich Azerbaijan may make it difficult to mediate. Russia is an ally to Armenia, but it’s said that although it’s “extremely concerned," it won’t be activating troops for now.

Key comments:

“Despite the appeals of the international community and the reached cease-fire agreement, Armenian armed forces continue attacks and provocations in the state border using artillery and other heavy weapons," Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of #Armenia is announcing that the entire responsibility for the created situation and further developments falls on the military-political leadership of #Azerbaijan," Armenia’s Ministry of Defense tweeted on Wednesday.

“We urge immediate cessation of hostilities and return to the negotiation table," said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.