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Armenia and Azerbaijan trade blame for renewed shelling

A screengrab purportedly showing Azerbaijanian servicemen crossing the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and approaching Armenian positions (Armenian defence ministry via AP)
A screengrab purportedly showing Azerbaijanian servicemen crossing the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and approaching Armenian positions (Armenian defence ministry via AP)

Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of new rounds of shelling on Wednesday morning as hostilities reignited between the two long-time adversaries.

The Armenian defence ministry has accused Azerbaijani forces of launching combat drones in the direction of the Armenian resort of Jermuk overnight and renewing the shelling from artillery and mortars in the morning in the direction of Jermuk and Verin Shorzha village, near the Sevan lake.

The Azerbaijani military, in turn, charged that Armenian forces shelled its positions in the Kalbajar and Lachin districts in the separatist Narogno-Karabakh regions.

Fighting on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted on Tuesday, killing about 100 troops in total. Armenia said at least 49 of its soldiers were killed; Azerbaijan said it lost 50.

Troops advancing
Armenia’s Prime Minister said 49 soldiers were killed in nighttime attacks by Azerbaijani troops, pictured here advancing past the border (Armenian defence ministry via AP)

The two countries have been locked in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

Azerbaijan reclaimed broad swathes of Nagorno-Karabakh in a six-week war in 2020 that killed more than 6,600 people and ended with a Russia-brokered peace deal.

Moscow deployed about 2,000 troops to the region to serve as peacekeepers under the deal.

The Russian foreign ministry urged both parties “to refrain from further escalation and show restraint” on Tuesday.

Moscow has engaged in a delicate balancing act in seeking to maintain friendly ties with both ex-Soviet nations.

Nikol Pashinyan
Armenian Prime minister Nikol Pashinyan delivers his speech at the National Assembly of Armenia in Yerevan (Tigran Mehrabyan/PAN Photo via AP)

It has strong economic and security ties with Armenia, which hosts a Russian military base, but has also been developing close cooperation with oil-rich Azerbaijan.

The international community has also urged calm.

The Armenian government said it would officially ask Russia for assistance under a friendship treaty between the countries, and also appeal to the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, a Moscow-dominated security alliance of ex-Soviet nations.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refrained from commenting on Armenia’s request but added during a conference call with reporters that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was “taking every effort to help de-escalate tensions”.