After four days of clashes in the Nagorno Karabakh region, Armenia does not feel ready to open talks with Azerbaijan. “It is inappropriate to speak of an Armenia-Azerbaijan-Russia summit when intense fighting is taking place,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian told Russian media, according to Interfax, saying that “for negotiations, we need the right atmosphere and conditions ”. He ruled that Armenia and Karabakh were unwilling to resolve the conflict “to the detriment of their national interests and their security”.
Since Sunday, the forces of the separatist enclave of Nagorny Karabakh, politically, militarily and economically supported by Armenia, and those of Azerbaijan have been clashing in battles that have left at least a hundred dead, the deadliest since 2016. Armenia said on Tuesday that a Turkish fighter-bomber supporting Azerbaijan shot down one of its military planes, which Ankara and Baku immediately denied.
A direct Turkish military intervention would mark a major turning point. An open war between Armenia and Azerbaijan would also risk destabilizing the South Caucasus and dragging the regional powers into it, foremost among them Turkey and Russia. Moscow, which is posing as a regional arbiter, called for a cessation of hostilities, as have Western capitals. The UN Security Council called on Tuesday in a unanimous statement obtained by AFP for an “immediate end to the fighting”.
Unverifiable balance sheets
According to official reports, probably very partial, the large-scale fighting that broke out on Sunday claimed the lives of 98 people, including 81 Armenian separatist fighters and 17 civilians on both sides of the front. Azerbaijan did not report any military losses and the two sides reject the responsibility for the hostilities. The death toll promises to be much higher. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said “heavy fighting continues” on Wednesday and that since the weekend 2,300 Armenian separatists have been killed.
While accusing his opponent of targeting civilian positions, he claims the destruction of 130 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, 25 anti-aircraft batteries and S-300 surface-to-air missiles. Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsroun Hovhannissian claimed “137 tanks and armored vehicles destroyed, 72 drones and 7 helicopters and a warplane shot down. 790 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and 1,900 wounded ”. All of this data was unverifiable from an independent source.
Azerbaijan, a Turkish-speaking country whose inhabitants are predominantly Shiite, calls for the return to its control of Nagorno Karabakh, mainly populated by Armenians, of Christian faith, whose secession in 1991 was not recognized by the international community . After weeks of war rhetoric, Azerbaijan announced on Sunday that it launched a “counter-offensive” in response to an Armenian “aggression”, using its artillery, armor and aerial bombardment on the province which has eluded it since the fall. of the USSR and a war that left 30,000 dead.