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Azerbaijan confirmed on Wednesday that it had taken control of several positions and destroyed armed targets in Nagorno-Karabakh, during an escalation that left three dead and revived the risk of war in this mountainous enclave disputed by the two former -Soviet republics.
Renewed tension in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan confirmed, Wednesday, August 3, having taken control of several positions and destroyed Armenian targets, killing three people. “Control has been established on several important heights,” including hills, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that its forces were fortifying those positions.
Earlier on Wednesday, both sides reported the deaths of at least two Armenian separatists and an Azerbaijani soldier in violence around Nagorno-Karabakh that raises the specter of a new war – after that of 2020.
These incidents are also likely to weigh on the peace talks that have been taking place for several months between Azerbaijan and Armenia, two rival ex-Soviet republics in the Caucasus, with the mediation of the European Union.
Russia, which sponsored the ceasefire that ended the 2020 war and deployed a peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh, has accused Azerbaijani forces of violating the truce in the area of Saribaba. Moscow, which considers the Caucasus region as its backyard, is taking “measures to stabilize the situation,” the Russian Defense Ministry added in a statement.
The European Union, for its part, called for the “immediate cessation of hostilities”. “It is essential to de-escalate, to respect the ceasefire and to return to the negotiating table to seek negotiated solutions,” said Peter Stano, the spokesman for the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, in a statement. a statement.
On Wednesday, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced the death of a conscript after “heavy fire” targeted an Azerbaijani army position in the Lachin district, a buffer zone between the armed border and Nagorno-Karabakh. .
Azerbaijan said it carried out an operation dubbed “Revenge” in retaliation, during which “several combat positions of illegal armed armed elements were destroyed”.
The Ministry of Defense published a video in which we see several explosions presented as being the result of strikes on the Armenian positions. Two members of the Armenian separatist forces were killed and 14 wounded, authorities in the enclave said, denouncing a “flagrant violation of the ceasefire”.
Tensions and negotiations to reach a peace treaty
Faced with this situation, the Armenian Foreign Ministry urged the international community to take measures to stop “Azerbaijan’s aggressive attitude and actions”. As a sign of the escalation of tensions, the leader of the Nagorno-Karabakh separatists, Arayik Haroutiounian, signed a decree on Wednesday proclaiming a partial military mobilization in this territory, according to the presidency website.
After a first war that killed more than 30,000 people in the early 1990s, Armenia and Azerbaijan clashed again in the fall of 2020 for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region which, supported by Yerevan had seceded from Azerbaijan. More than 6,500 people were killed in this new war lost by Armenia.
As part of a ceasefire agreement brokered by Moscow, which has deployed peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, Yerevan ceded significant territory to Azerbaijan. This agreement was experienced as a humiliation in Armenia, where several opposition parties have since demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian – whom they accuse of having made too many concessions to Baku.
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Despite a timid diplomatic relaxation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, tensions remain strong between the two former Soviet republics. Both countries regularly report outbreaks of violence and casualties among soldiers.
Under EU mediation, the two countries are conducting negotiations to reach a peace treaty.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held talks in Brussels in April and May with Nikol Pashinian. According to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the two leaders could meet again this summer. The foreign ministers of the two countries also met last month in Georgia for their first ministers direct talks since the end of the 2020 war.