Nagorno-Karabakh has demanded that Armenia halt ongoing negotiations with Azerbaijan in Washington after reporting that four soldiers were killed by Azerbaijani forces on Wednesday morning.
This is the largest recent death toll amidst increasingly frequent mutual accusations of ceasefire violations, and reportedly the largest loss of life in a single incident in Nagorno-Karabakh since the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War.
Nagorno-Karabakh accused Baku of using artillery and combat drones against military positions in the Martuni and Martakert regions of Nagorno-Karabakh, after spreading ‘false reports’ about Nagorno-Karabakh violating the ceasefire.
‘On 27 June, [Azerbaijan spread] an untrue report about the wounding of a soldier of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces by fire from the Armenian side, creating an informational basis for another provocation’, the Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army statement read.
A Tuesday statement by Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry claimed that Azerbaijani military units ‘took retaliatory measures’ following ceasefire violations by Nagorno-Karabakh.
On Wednesday, a statement signed by all political parties present in the Nagorno-Karabakh parliament urged the Armenian government to halt ongoing negotiations with Azerbaijan, currently underway in the United States, until a ‘full ceasefire on the line of contact with Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] and the borders of Armenia’ was established.
‘Otherwise, the continuation of the negotiations will mean the encouragement of the aggressive behaviour of the Azerbaijani side and privilege at the international level’, the statement read.
The parliament also called on international actors to take concrete action, and for Russia to stop Azerbaijan’s ‘anti-human, genocidal actions’ using ‘the harshest’ measures.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also reacted to the news, noting the high risk of destabilisation in the South Caucasus, and urging the international community to ensure the rights and security of people in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ongoing talks in Washington
Tension has been notably high between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and within Nagorno-Karabakh in the past month, with almost daily reports of ceasefire violations.
Armenia has additionally accused Azerbaijan of targeting a US-funded steel plant in Armenian territory near the border with Nakhchivan. Two Indian citizens were injured at the plant on 14 June, prompting an expression of concern from US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.
The United States has emerged as a key mediator between the sides, hosting another round of ongoing peace talks in Washington this week. The talks, attended by Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, began on Tuesday and will finish on Thursday.
In a Tuesday Twitter post, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US supports ‘Armenia and Azerbaijan working together toward a durable and dignified agreement. Dialogue is key to lasting peace’.
Along with the tripartite meetings, Blinken has held bilateral meetings with Mirzoyan and Bayramov.
US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller stated on Tuesday that ‘sensitive diplomatic discussions will take place’, aimed at achieving a ‘durable and dignified’ peace.
For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.