Armenia denounces a “large-scale aggression” for the purposes of “ethnic cleansing”. This Tuesday, the capital of Nagorno Karabakh, Stepanakert, and other towns in the region are being targeted by “intensive fire” by Azerbaijani forces, Armenian separatist authorities announced. Baku “has launched a large-scale military operation against the Republic of Artsakh (the name given by the Armenians to Nagorno Karabakh, Editor’s note.)”, they warned on Facebook.
“The number of civilian injuries increased to 23. The reported number of civilian victims is (him) two,” lamented on X (ex-Twitter) Gegham Stepanyan, the rights defender of the separatist region. “Civilian infrastructure is also targeted” by the Azerbaijani army, he said.
Baku had earlier warned that it had launched “anti-terrorist operations” targeting Armenian forces, in response to the death of six people in a mine explosion at the site of a tunnel under construction between two towns in Nagorno Karabakh under Armenian control. ‘Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani security services accused a group of Armenian separatist “saboteurs” of laying these mines and committing an act of “terrorism”.
This Azerbaijani territory controlled by Armenian separatists is disputed for decades between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. This military intervention comes three years after the start of the previous Karabakh war in September 2020, a conflict won at the time after six weeks by Azerbaijani forces.
Tensions resumed a few months ago while they had decreased by a notch on Monday with the arrival of humanitarian aid in the enclave, subject for months to an Azerbaijani blockade which caused serious shortages of food and medicine.
The “unconditional and total withdrawal” of Armenian forces
Baku specified that it had informed Russia and Turkey “in advance” of its operations, ensuring that it was only targeting “legitimate military targets” and not civilians. “As part of these measures, the positions of the Armenian armed forces (…) are rendered harmless using high-precision weapons on the front line and in depth,” announced in a press release the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense. He also said that “humanitarian corridors” have been set up on the Lachin road. to allow the evacuation of civilians.
Azerbaijani diplomacy warned that “the only way to achieve peace and stability in the region” was “the unconditional and total withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the Azerbaijani region of Karabakh and the dissolution of the so-called separatist regime.”
For its part, Armenia ured that it had no armed troops deployed in Nagorno Karabakh, implying that only its separatist allies were there to face the Azerbaijani forces. They are “trying to advance in depth”, they indicated on X (formerly Twitter), specifying that the Armenian defense forces “continue to resist”.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian urgently convened his Security Council to deal with this crisis. “Azerbaijan has launched a ground operation aimed at the ethnic cleansing of the Armenians of Karabakh,” he denounced in a televised statement on Tuesday, uring on the other hand that the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border was “stable » and that Armenia was “not engaged in armed actions”.
Russia, regional power and guarantor of a ceasefire dating from 2020 involving the deployment of Russian peacekeepers on the ground, called on both parties to “respect” the agreements in force for Nagorno Karabakh and to “avoid provocations”, saying he was in contact with Baku. The Kremlin then said it was “concerned” by this “brutal escalation” of the situation there.
Furthermore, “the Russian side urgently calls for an end to the bloodshed (…) and a return to a peaceful settlement,” Russian diplomatic spokesperson Maria Zakharova told the press. “All stages of a peaceful solution are set out in the agreements signed in 2020 and 2022,” she added.
Azerbaijan must “immediately” cease its military operation, asked for his part the President of the European Council Charles Michel on X (ex-Twitter), “to enable a genuine dialogue between Baku and the Armenians of Karabakh”. The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, also “condemned” Azerbaijan’s military offensive. The European Union has set up an observation mission on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and acts as a mediator between the two countries.
Macron spoke with the Armenian Prime Minister
At the start of the afternoon, Paris requested an “emergency” meeting of the UN Security Council. “No pretext can justify such unilateral action, which threatens thousands of civilians already affected by months of illegal blockade and goes against the efforts of the international community to reach a negotiated settlement,” the ministry stressed. French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urging Baku “to immediately cease its offensive and return to respect for international law”.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian discussed the situation on the telephone with Emmanuel Macron. “The situation in Nagorno Karabakh after the attack on Azerbaijan was discussed,” Nikol Pashinian’s spokesperson, Nazeli Baghdasaryan, said on Facebook. According to her, the two leaders considered the “use of force” “inadmissible” and considered “de-escalation” in the enclave “necessary”.