A Tenuous Ceasefire Agreement Has Been Reached
An intense attack on Armenia’s Gegharkunik Province by Azerbaijani forces on Wednesday has left three Armenian soldiers dead and four others injured, with tenuous ceasefire agreement reached at the eleventh hour mediated by Russia.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry reported that “localized battles” erupted after Azerbaijani forces opened fire at the Verin Shorja section of Gegharkunik Province along northeastern sector of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border at around 3:40 a.m. local time.
The fighting lasted for hours, with the defense ministry reporting that Armenian Armed Forces soldiers repelled the attack and forced the Azerbaijanis to retreat to their position at 9:20 a.m. local.
The Defense Ministry released the names of the three Armenian soldiers killed in Wednesday’s fighting. They are: Senior Lt. Hayk Gevorgyan, Private Koryun Harutyunyan and Private Davit Kocharyan.
Later on Wednesday morning, a ceasefire agreement was reached with the mediation to the Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Artsakh, Armenia’s Defense Ministry reported.
“Both sides used firearms and mortars during combat operations which began as a result of Azerbaijani attacks,” said the Defense Ministry in a statement. “Armenia’s Armed Forces opened mortar fire in response to the enemy’s use of mortars. No change of the line of contact has taken place, the border situation is under the full control of the Armenian Armed Forces.”
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry claimed in a statement that Baku has accepted the Russian-brokered ceasefire.
The Kremlin reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border with Russia’s National Security Council on Wednesday.
”During the consultations the participants discussed issues referring to the social-economic development of Russia. In addition, issues of international agenda were addressed, including the situation in Afghanistan, as well as on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border,” Putin’s spokesperson Demitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry’s head of defense policy and international cooperation, Levon Ayvazyan, summoned military attachés accredited in Armenia.
The military attachés were briefed about the recent developments on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, specifically about Wednesday’s attack by Azerbaijani forces on the Verin Shorja community of the Gegharkunik province.
Ayvazyan said Armenian Armed Forces have taken all necessary measures to counter the attacks, stressing to the foreign attachés that Azerbaijani troops must pull back from Armenia’s sovereign territory.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Azerbaijan is deliberately escalating tensions while illegally occupying Armenia’s sovereign territory as its leaders continue to make territorial and historical claims from Armenia.
“In response to the use of force by Azerbaijan against the territorial integrity of Armenia, the Republic of Armenia will utilize all its military-political tools in line with international law,” said the foreign ministry. “We strongly condemn the military actions by Azerbaijan directed against regional peace and security.”
“The entire responsibility for the further escalation of the situation falls on the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan,” added the foreign ministry.
Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan said in a Facebook post that his office has been receiving alerts from residents in Verin Shorja and Kut for days about Azerbaijani attacks on their villages.
“The Azerbaijani authorities are overtly violating international norms and bear responsibility for the killing of three Armenian soldiers in Gegharkunik province, violating their right to life and causing damage to the health of the injured soldiers,” Tatoyan said.
Tatoyan added that through the ongoing illegal attacks, official Baku is aiming to thwart the border demarcation process being negotiated per an agreement by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.