Armenia Will Use Heavy Artillery, Says Defense Ministry

A rocket launcher during military exercises in 2014
A rocket launcher during military exercises in 2014

A rocket launcher during military exercises in 2014

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian military pledged on Saturday to use heavier artillery against Azerbaijani troops after accusing them of firing howitzer shells at Armenian soldiers for the first time since the May 1994 cease-fire agreement.

Four of those soldiers were killed and as many as 16 others wounded in northeastern Karabakh on Friday evening.

According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry, they were struck by Azerbaijani artillery fire several kilometers away from the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” around the disputed territory. A ministry statement said the Azerbaijani army used Russian-made D-30 howitzers in the attack.

The 122-milimeter artillery systems have a firing range of 15 kilometers. Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army claimed that the Azerbaijani side fired a total of 30 D-30 rounds on Friday and early Saturday.

President Serzh Sarkisian pointed to the soldiers’ deaths and the fact that three Armenian civilians were killed by Azerbaijani shelling on Thursday as he vowed “punitive actions” against Baku on Friday. “We will certainly force Azerbaijan’s government to be accountable to its people for more suffering inflicted on them,” Sarkisian said at a meeting with senior officials in Yerevan.

The Defense Ministry elaborated on the promised retaliation in a special statement. “In order to silence the enemy, thwart its actions and thereby support the [Karabakh] peace process, from now on the Armenian Armed Forces will use adequate means of artillery and rocket fire, constantly targeting the sites of Azerbaijani troop deployments and movements, military hardware and personnel,” it said.

There was no immediate reaction to these statements from Baku. Earlier in the day, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that its frontline units are “using more powerful weaponry to resolutely thwart any action by the enemy.”

Until last year ceasefire violations in the Karabakh conflict zone took the form of periodical exchanges of automatic and sniper fire between the two warring sides and overnight incursions by their commando units. Over the past year, the Armenian side has accused the Azerbaijani army of increasingly resorting to mortar fire during skirmishes. Baku says that the Armenians themselves are now using 60-milimeter and 82-milimeter mortars.

The use of heavier and more devastating artillery, if it becomes a regular occurrence, would mark a further escalation of the conflict and seriously complicate international mediators’ efforts to broker a peaceful settlement.

“The use of artillery by the Azerbaijani side … is yet another step towards full-scale hostilities,” warned the Armenian Defense Ministry.

Both the ministry and Sarkisian claimed that the Azerbaijani leadership has been emboldened by the international community’s reluctance to explicitly blame Baku for increased truce violations. Sarkisian said that Yerevan is now left with no choice but to ensure that “the adversary does not think that it has gotten away with its impudent behavior.”

“We are prepared to take up the gauntlet,” Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian told reporters. “We know who we are dealing with. We have such experience.”

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12 Comments

  1. PK said:

    Dear Mr. President,
    Show us action rather than words. No more empty talks or promises, where was the promise made 1 Armenian soldiers death, we would retaliate with 5 ASSERBABOONS soldiers death. Enough of empty promises….. Asbarez, stop posting the weapons we have when they are not being used to protect our Armenian families…. By the way, whatever happened to opening up the airport…… are we ignoring that as well…….

  2. Atam Meghryan said:

    “We know who we are dealing with. We have such experience.” This statement should not be obscure and abstract but materialized I wish and look forward to see it.

  3. Arto said:

    Stop talking and start acting. Continuos threats without follow-up tells the enemy you are full of it.

  4. Vahe said:

    The oil and gas pipelines running from Baku to Georgia to Turkey pass close to Artsakh.

    Need we say more?

    Lobbing a few shells that way will get the attention of the US and Europe.

  5. Ishkhan said:

    ԸՍԻՆՔ ՀՈ ՉԸՐԻՆՔ ԵՒ ՄԵԾ ԵՂԲՈՐ Ն ԷԼ ԶԵՆՔԻ ՄԱՍԻՆ ԲԱՆ ՄԸ ՉԸՍԻՆՔ

  6. David Karamian said:

    We don’t need announce what we are about to do, just get job done! As far as I’m concerned, Russia can go to hell, along with Azerbaijan and Turkey!

  7. ara said:

    Blow their dam heads off and then we can talk-with bullets- we have a shipload ready to pound these dirty scumbag azeris- we will lose a few lives to take our land back and to save many of our people-they have no culture-no education-they are dirt

  8. Arn.Sweden. said:

    Armenia – YOU have to prepere Yourself –
    for a full all out war with bouth Asebadjan and Turkey !.
    I Quote –
    Both the ministry and Sarkisian claimed that the Azerbaijani leadership has been emboldened by the international community’s reluctance to explicitly blame Baku for increased truce violations. Sarkisian said that Yerevan is now left with no choice but to ensure that “the adversary does not think that it has gotten away with its impudent behavior.”

    “We are prepared to take up the gauntlet,” Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian told reporters. “We know who we are dealing with. We have such experience.”

    Further comment –

    Armenia – You will not be Alone Though – Even though you will end up in conflict with Nato.

    Arn.Sweden.

  9. Vahe said:

    Artsakh: Please hit back at Azeris twice as hard.
    This is the only language they understand, unfortunately.
    Beam radio programs into Azerbaijan telling the people that Aliyev is getting people killed just to keep himself in power.

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