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Tensions flare in Nagorno-Karabakh

2 August 2022
Hills near Martuni (Khojavand), Nagorno-Karabakh. Photo: OC Media.

Clashes were reported on Monday in Nagorno-Karabakh amidst calls for calm from Armenian authorities and denials from Azerbaijan.

On Monday evening, the Nagorno-Karabakh army reported that Azerbaijani forces attempted to cross the line of contact in the north and northwest of Nagorno-Karabakh from 09:00 that morning, and that one soldier had been wounded.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence denied the incident, calling the claim ‘false, provocative, and confusing’.

The Russian Defence Ministry, which operates the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, also claimed in their daily report that there were no ceasefire violations. 

The renewed tensions come amidst a diplomatic push from the West to reach a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

As news of clashes spread, US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Karen Donfried, held phone conversations with the foreign ministers of both Armenia and Azerbaijan

Reports of clashes first emerged on Monday in local media in Nagorno-Karabakh, which was followed by media and opposition reports of tensions along the Armenia–Azerbaijan border in the Gegharkunik and Syunik provinces. However, a spokesperson for Armenia’s defence ministry said the situation in those areas was calm. 

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Renewed tensions amidst peace talks

Over the past weeks, the number of mutual accusations of ceasefire violations on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and in Nagorno-Karabakh have spiked. 

Both sides have accused each other of ‘provocations’ and ceasefire violations as peace talks and the negotiations on the delimitation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border continue. 

The Armenian side has also reported several cases in which Azerbaijani troops targeted civilian infrastructure. 

Recent peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan have seen a significant involvement from the United States and the European Union, with Brussels becoming one of the main mediators along with Russia. 

Azerbaijan’s relations with the EU have also seen a marked change since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with EU countries seeking to increase gas exports from Azerbaijan to reduce their dependency on Russian gas. 

Both Western and Russian diplomats have also paid numerous visits to Yerevan and Baku in recent months, vowing to support the peaceful resolution of the conflict.  

Despite the massive rift between Russia and the West over the war in Ukraine, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has become a rare area in which the West has been willing to cooperate with Russia. 

Additional reporting by Ismi Aghayev.

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