Armenia and Azerbaijan clash again as foreign peace efforts intensify

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  • Armenia and Azerbaijan blame each other for fighting
  • Deadliest violence since 2020
  • Armenia says 105 of its soldiers were killed in two days
  • Russia and the United States are making diplomatic efforts

TBILISI, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Fresh clashes erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Wednesday as international peace efforts intensified a day after the former Soviet republics saw their deadliest violence since 2020, in which hundreds of people died.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told parliament that his tiny landlocked country had appealed to the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization to help restore its territorial integrity.

“If we say that Azerbaijan carried out aggression against Armenia, it means that they managed to establish control over certain territories,” Russian agency Tass quoted Russian agency Tass as saying.

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Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting for decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan but which was until 2020 populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians, with the support of ‘Yerevan.

Pashinyan said 105 Armenian servicemen had been killed since the attacks began and the spa town of Jermuk had been shelled.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry, which has denied shelling Azerbaijani positions, said at 8:00 p.m. local time (1600 GMT) on Wednesday that “firing almost stopped in all directions.”

Tuesday’s violence, which Baku blames on Yerevan, has prompted calls for calm from Russian President Vladimir Putin and international pleas for restraint. Read more

Azerbaijan made significant gains in and around Nagorno-Karabakh during a six-week war in 2020, thanks in part to arms supplied by close ally Turkey.

Since then, skirmishes have broken out periodically despite a Russian-brokered ceasefire and tentative steps to reach a more comprehensive peace settlement.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Armenia’s attitude towards Azerbaijan was unacceptable and would have consequences. Read more

Domestic discontent in Armenia over the 2020 defeat has sparked repeated protests against Pashinyan, who has dismissed reports that he has signed a deal with Baku.

In a Facebook post, he accused the reports of “informational sabotage directed by hostile forces.”

A full-fledged conflict would risk dragging on in Russia and Turkey, and destabilizing an important corridor for oil and gas pipelines, just as the war in Ukraine is disrupting energy supplies. Read more

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan told Reuters the clashes could escalate into war – a second major armed conflict in the former Soviet Union as Russia’s military focuses on Ukraine. Read more

Azerbaijan has accused Armenia, which is in a military alliance with Moscow and home to a Russian military base, of bombing its army units.

Baku reported 50 military deaths on the first day of fighting. Reuters was unable to immediately verify either side’s battlefield accounts.

DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS

The outbreak has sparked international concern, with Russia, the United States, France and the European Union stepping up diplomatic efforts.

Baku said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with US State Department Caucasus adviser Philip Reeker, telling him Armenia must withdraw from Azeri territory.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Russia could either “stir the pot” or use its influence to help “calm the waters”.

He held separate calls with Armenian President Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev asking for a ceasefire.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, during a call with her counterparts from both countries, also called for “an end to the strikes against Armenian territory”.

EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar was due to travel to the southern Caucasus on Wednesday to facilitate the dialogue. The CSTO also dispatched a delegation to assess the situation.

In other conflicts involving former Soviet republics, Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards exchanged fire on Wednesday in Central Asia in a dispute over the course of their border, officials on both sides said. Read more

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Reporting by Nailia Bagirova in Baku, Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Jake Cordell in Tbilisi, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Ece Toksabay and Ali Kucukgocmen in Ankara and Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Kevin Liffey, William Maclean and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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