Armenia declares martial law after deadly fighting between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh separatists

Images released by the Armenian Defense Ministry on September 27, 2020.

Heavy and deadly fighting broke out on Sunday (September 27th) between Azerbaijani forces and separatists in the Armenian-backed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Azerbaijan has announced that it has launched a “Counter-offensive” of scale against the Armenian separatists, while the latter claimed to have inflicted “Losses” to the Azerbaijani army. Civilians and soldiers have been killed in the fighting, both sides said, accusing each other of initiating hostilities.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement that it had launched a “Counter-offensive across the front line”, in order to “To put an end to military activities of the armed forces of Armenia and ensure the safety of the civilian population”. The Armenian Defense Ministry, which supports the separatist forces, said two Azerbaijani helicopters were shot down, along with a drone. The Azerbaijani defense ministry admitted that one of its helicopters was shot down, but said its crew was safe and said they destroyed twelve anti-aircraft batteries.

Read also The endless war in Nagorno-Karabakh

Moscow calls for “an immediate ceasefire”

Images released by the Armenian Defense Ministry on September 27, 2020.

The Karabakh separatists for their part decreed “Martial law and general mobilization”, just like Armenia. “Martial law and general mobilization are decreed in Armenia. I urge all personnel to report to military stations “Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian said on Facebook, who called on his people to “To be ready to defend the sacred homeland”. “Let us firmly support our State, our army (…) and we will win. Long live the glorious Armenian army! “, he wrote on Facebook.

“Early this morning, the Azerbaijani side launched bombardments all along the contact line. They also bomb Stepanakert [la capitale], we call on the population to take shelter “, said the spokesman for the separatist presidency on his Facebook page. “The Karabakh armed forces have so far thwarted plans [de l’Azerbaïdjan], inflicting heavy losses ” the opponent, the region’s defense ministry said.

A major conflict involving Yerevan and Baku could result in the intervention of competing powers in the Caucasus region, Russia and Turkey. Moscow called on Sunday morning to “An immediate cease-fire” and negotiations between the belligerents. A spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a traditional ally of Baku, denounced him on twitter “The attack of Armenia on Azerbaijan”, accusing Yerevan of having attacked “Civilian localities”.

Deadlocked peace talks

Nagorno-Karabakh is a secessionist region of Azerbaijan. Province populated mainly by Armenians, attached to Azerbaijan in 1921 by Stalin, Nagorny-Karabakh has been the scene of ethnic clashes since the end of the 1980s. With the fall of the Soviet empire, this small piece of land mountainous region proclaims its independence, leading to regional armed conflict.

A fragile ceasefire was signed in 1994 after a military debacle in the much better armed Azerbaijan – more than 30,000 dead on both sides – and the expulsion of the Azeris. Since then, the Azerbaijani authorities have wanted to regain control of Nagorno-Karabakh, by force if necessary.

Peace talks have been deadlocked for many years. Fights regularly oppose separatists and Azerbaijanis, but also Yerevan and Baku. In 2016, serious clashes almost degenerated into war in Karabakh, and deadly fighting also pitted Armenians and Azerbaijanis on their northern border in July 2020.

” Aggressive behaviour “

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev threatened Armenia with reprisals on Friday for his ” aggressive behaviour “, referring to the clashes in July, and accused Yerevan of “To deliberately fail negotiations” of peace on Karabakh. He also felt that Armenia was preparing “Tens of thousands of men with one goal, to attack Azerbaijan”. Mr. Aliyev is scheduled to speak on television on Sunday.

Baku has taken advantage of its immense oil reserves to spend lavishly on weapons in recent years. Azerbaijan can also count on the unwavering support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regularly accuses Armenia of being a threat to the stability of the Caucasus.

Much poorer Armenia, on the other hand, is closer to Russia, which has a military base there. Yerevan also belongs to a politico-military alliance led by Moscow, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The Kremlin, which positions itself as an arbiter in the region, delivers arms to both countries. And for almost thirty years he has managed to avoid open war. The international mediation on Karabakh, called the Minsk Group, includes, besides Moscow, France and the United States.

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The World with AFP

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