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Week of ceasefire violations in Nagorno-Karabakh as tensions mount

17 March 2023
Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Photo: Armenian Public Radio.

Tensions in and around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Armenia–Azerbaijan border are continuing to flare, with almost daily accusations of ceasefire violations.

On both Tuesday and Thursday, the Russian Defence Ministry expressed concern about ceasefire violations in the Martuni Province in the east of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

On Wednesday, Nagorno-Karabakh’s Interior Ministry reported that civilians working in vineyards in Martuni came under Azerbaijani fire.

Also on Wednesday, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence accused both Yerevan and Stepanakert of violating the ceasefire.

They said Armenian forces in the eastern Gegharkunik Province opened fire on Azerbaijani positions along the Armenia–Azerbaijan border, and that Nagorno-Karabakh forces had fired on positions to the east of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Tensions in the region have escalated since the death of five in a clash on 5 March, after Azerbaijani troops confronted a Nagorno-Karabakh police vehicle.

Three Nagorno-Karabakh police officers and two Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in the fighting.


Baku said the vehicle was carrying weapons and military personnel to Nagorno-Karabakh, bypassing the blocked Lachin Corridor via a nearby road.

Responding to Baku’s accusations, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the incident an ‘act of terrorism’ and accused Azerbaijan of planning the genocide of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Since the clash on 5 March, Baku has accused the Russian peacekeepers of escorting Armenian convoys and arms to the region. Yerevan has denied the accusations, stating that there are no Armenian troops in Nagorno-Karabakh.

As Armenia and Azerbaijan sling mutual accusations of ceasefire violations, fears of a renewed war has increased. Mikroskop Media, an independent Azerbaijani media outlet, found that Azerbaijani state media coverage of the tensions ‘hinted’ at a new escalation or a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

On 11 March, the Azerbaijani Defence Minister, Zakir Hasanov, instructed the military to ‘take preventive measures against Armenia’s threats’, stating that ‘illegal military transportation and rotation of manpower by Armenia’ to Nagorno-Karabakh was ‘inadmissible’. 

At the same time, the Azerbaijani president’s administration invited the Armenian representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh to a meeting in Baku, following earlier meetings in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Davit Babayan, an adviser to the president of Nagorno-Karabakh, said the invitation was an indicator that Baku ‘is not going to negotiate’ with the Armenian population, saying that ‘the negotiations could take place only between equal parties, with the participation of international mediators, entrusted to the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group’. 

 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.

Read in Georgian on On.ge.
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