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Moscow brokers ceasefire after Armenia–Azerbaijan clashes leave three dead

28 July 2021
Sotk. Photo: Gayane Mkrtchyan/OC Media

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a Russian brokered ceasefire after morning clashes left at least three Armenian soldiers dead.

Armenian authorities have reported that the ceasefire is holding and that the situation on the border remains ‘relatively stable’. The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry however accused Armenia of not ‘complying with the requirements of the ceasefire’ and using tanks and mortars. 

Armenia said that the hours-long clashes on Wednesday morning took place after Azerbaijani forces advanced near the villages of Sotk and Verin Shorzha in Armenia’s Gegharkunik Province. Azerbaijan claimed the clashes took place ‘in the direction of Kelbajar’, a neighbouring area handed over to Azerbaijani control following the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. 

Three Armenian soldiers have been confirmed killed in the latest clashes and 4 wounded, while Azerbaijan reported two wounded soldiers.

Border tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have spiralled since May after an apparent incursion of Azerbaijani armed forces into Armenia’s territory in the Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces. In late July, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev said that they did not consider the territories of ‘Zangezur’, a name sometimes applied in Azerbaijan to  Syunik, disputed and that their soldiers were on ‘their own’ lands.

Armenia first reported the clashes on Wednesday morning saying that Azerbaijani forces that remained on Armenian soil after crossing the border in May had attempted to make further advances into Armenia.

‘The opponent is trying to improve its positions, creating favourable conditions for advancement’, their statement reads. 

Armenia accused Azerbaijan of starting an offensive ahead of planned negotiations in Moscow. Armenia’s Foreign Ministry stated that in response to the use of force, Armenia would use ‘all its military-political tools in accordance with international law’.

The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, meanwhile, accused Armenia of carrying out ‘provocations’ and of threatening the country’s territorial integrity. 

‘To ensure the inviolability of the borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan, all provocations committed by Armenia will continue to be resolutely prevented’, the ministry stated

Azerbaijan also called on Armenia to start ‘negotiations on the delimitation of the state border in a civil manner’.

Since mid-July, repeated clashes on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan have taken place, leading to losses on both sides. So far, Armenia has reported the death of four soldiers and Azerbaijan the death of one. At least two Armenian soldiers who went missing as a result of July tensions also remain unaccounted for.

[Read more: Fresh clashes on Nakhchivan border]

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