Kremlin says Putin making ‘every effort’ to de-escalate Armenia-Azerbaijan hostilities

This is in resumption of decades-old hostilities linked to the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. PHOTO: UNSPLASH

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing everything he can to help de-escalate hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia’s efforts to mediate the situation would continue.

Clashes erupted between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, Russian news agencies reported early on Tuesday, in a resumption of decades-old hostilities linked to the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russia on Tuesday called for Armenia and Azerbaijan to cease hostilities and observe a ceasefire agreement, with Moscow expressing “extreme concern” over the renewed fighting between the two countries.

Both countries are located near Russia's southern border.

In a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry said it had brokered a ceasefire at 0900 Moscow time this morning (2pm Singapore time) and it expected both sides to fulfill the terms of the agreement.

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said earlier on Tuesday in a speech to parliament that the intensity of fighting had reduced, but was still active in some areas.

Azerbaijani media said the ceasefire broke down within 15 minutes. 

Azerbaijan, which re-established full control over the territory in a six-week conflict in 2020, acknowledged casualties among its forces.

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said 49 Armenian service personnel died during the overnight clashes, the Interfax news agency reported.

In a speech to Armenia’s parliament, Pashinyan said Azerbaijan had attacked Armenia’s positions overnight and that fighting was ongoing.

Armenia said it would invoke a cooperation agreement with Russia and appeal to a Russia-led security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, as well as the United Nations Security Council, Interfax reported.

In addition to Putin, Pashinyan has called French President Emmanuel Macron and United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the situation.

Blinken urged an immediate end to hostilities for which each side has blamed the other.

France will bring up the topic of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the United Nations Security Council, the office of President Macron said, adding that he continued to urge both sides to stick to a ceasefire.

"Several positions, shelters and reinforced points of the Azerbaijan armed forces... came under intense shelling from weapons of various calibres, including mortars, by units of the Armenian army," the agencies quoted a statement by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry as saying.

"As a result, there are losses in personnel and damage to military infrastructure."

Azerbaijani statements said Armenian forces had been engaged in intelligence activity on its border, moved weapons into the area and on Monday night had conducted mining operations.

It said its actions were "strictly local in nature aimed at military targets".

Armenia's Defence Ministry said: "Intensive shooting is continuing - started as a result of a large-scale provocation by the Azerbaijani side. Armenia's armed forces have launched a proportionate response."

Conflict first broke out in the late 1980s when both sides were under Soviet rule and Armenian forces captured swathes of territory near Nagorno-Karabkah - long recognised internationally as Azerbaijan's territory, but with a large Armenian population.

Azerbaijan regained those territories in the 2020 fighting, which ended with a Russian-brokered truce and thousands of residents returning to homes from which they had fled.

The leaders of both countries have since met several times to hammer out a treaty intended to establish a lasting peace. REUTERS AFP

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