The tension does not come down in Nagorno-Karabakh. Multiple bombings targeted for most of the night from Tuesday to Wednesday the capital of the self-proclaimed republic Stepanakert. At regular intervals, almost hourly, warning sirens sounded throughout the city, plunged into near total darkness. Each time there followed a succession of heavy explosions, the nature of which it was not possible to determine exactly: rocket, missile, artillery or aerial bombardment.
According to one resident, however, it is without a doubt the most intense night of bombing since this weekend, since Azerbaijani forces target Stepanakert, a town of 55,000 inhabitants at an altitude of almost 1,000 meters. in the Karabakh mountains. These bombardments continued at daybreak. The toll of the night, material or human, is for the moment unknown.
France, Russia and the United States unite
France, Russia and the United States, countries co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group, denounced Monday the attacks in Nagorno Karabakh apparently targeting civilians, considering that they constitute an “unacceptable threat to the stability of the region”. In a statement, the foreign ministers of the three countries “underline without reservation that the recent attacks which have targeted civilian installations”, both in the conflict zone and elsewhere in Armenia and Azerbaijan according to them, and “the character disproportionate such attacks constitute an unacceptable threat to the stability of the region ”.
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Jean-Yves Le Drian, Mike Pompeo and Sergei Lavrov “condemn with the utmost firmness the unprecedented and dangerous escalation of violence in and outside the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone”. They call again for an “immediate and unconditional ceasefire” and urge Baku and Yerevan to “commit now to resume the settlement process based on the applicable fundamental principles and international texts. relevant issues well known to both parties ”.
Half of Karabakh’s population displaced
Half of the population of Nagorny Karabakh, that is 70,000 to 75,000 people, has been displaced by the fighting between this separatist territory populated by Armenians and Azerbaijan, the mediator of this self-proclaimed republic said on Wednesday. “According to our preliminary estimates, around 50% of the population has been displaced, including 90% of women and children,” said Artak Belgarian, the ombudsperson responsible for civilians’ rights issues in times of war.
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Between 70,000 and 75,000 people have been displaced either within Artsakh [le nom arménien du Nagorny Karabakh, NDLR], or have become refugees, moving to other places of safety ”outside the borders of the territory, he said. Nagorno Karabakh is populated by around 140,000 people, 99% ethnic Armenians. Local authorities and Armenia accuse Azerbaijan, since the resumption of hostilities on September 27, of targeting civilians, particularly in Stepanakert, the capital, which is usually populated by 50,000 people.
Putin’s first public stance
Vladimir Putin called on Armenians and Azerbaijanis on Wednesday to end the ongoing “tragedy” in Nagorno Karabakh, his first public stance on the conflict, in an interview broadcast on his birthday. “It’s a huge tragedy. People are dying, there are heavy losses on both sides. We hope that this conflict will end as soon as possible ”, indicated the Russian president in an interview granted to the public television Rossiya and broadcast by the Kremlin.
“If this conflict [vieux de 30 ans, NDLR] can not be definitively resolved, because we are far from it, at least we call, I insist on this, for a cease-fire. And it is as quickly as possible that it must be done ”, declared Vladimir Poutine, who celebrates his 68 years. If the Kremlin had quoted the Russian president calling for an end to hostilities in statements, this is his first public and televised position since the fighting began on September 27.