- No Armenian casualties reported; Azerbaijan reported 4 soldier deaths
- Armenia soldier down Azerbaijani drones made in Israel
- Turkey issues announced siding with Baku
- Prime Minister warns Baku of “severe consequences”
- After a day of intense shelling, the border situation is reportedly calm
The situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border remains tense after a day of fighting that was sparked by Azerbaijani forces attempting to infiltrate and capture a military border post in Armenia. According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry, the Armenian Armed Forces repelled the incursion efforts, but shelling of Armenian civilian targets continued throughout Sunday and into Monday.
At around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Azerbaijani troops began shelling a military outpost in the Tavush Province of Armenia with Azerbaijani soldiers driving a military combat vehicle toward the border. According to the Defense Ministry, Armenian soldiers issued warnings, after which the Azerbaijani soldiers abandoned the vehicle and retreated. Shortly after, the Azerbaijani troops launched an attack and attempted to capture the Armenian military position by using artillery fire. Azerbaijani troops suffered losses and were repelled. The same Armenian position once again came under artillery and tank fire from Azerbaijani hours later.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan said there were no fatalities on the Armenian side. Azerbaijan’s defense ministry reported that four of its soldiers died during the failed operation.
On Monday, the Azerbaijani military fired mortar rockets on the Armenian village of Chinari in the Tavush Province hitting a residence. No casualties were reported.
Armenian Armed Forces on Monday shot down several Azerbaijani drones that were deployed as fighting escalated on the border in Tavush Province.
Images of one of the downed drones show the remnants of what appears to be either a Thunder-B recon drone, or a Skystriker combat drone—both manufactured in Israel.
Azerbaijan had deployed the Thunder-B drones during the April 2016 War. The Skystriker drones are relatively new, and were unveiled by Azerbaijan during a military parade in January 2019.
During an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned Azerbaijan that its military-political leadership will bear the entire responsibility for the consequences of efforts to destabilize the region.
“Yesterday, on July 12, the armed forces of Azerbaijan launched provocative actions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, attacking our border posts located in the direction of Movses village of Tavush province. The provocative operations of the Azerbaijani armed forces are strongly condemnable. This morning these operations have resumed. With their resumption the Azerbaijani military-political leadership will bear the entire responsibility of the unpredictable consequences of destabilizing the region,” Pashinyan said.
Last week, in an interview broadcast by local television outlets, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan challenged the principle of resolving the Karabakh conflict through peaceful means and asserted that his country had a right to defend itself, calling the effort of international mediators who expressly said that there would be no military solution to the conflict, “meaningless.” Less than a week after Aliyev’s statements, Azerbaijan forces launched the attack on Armenia’s borders.
“This military incident did not occur in a vacuum,” said Pashinyan. “For a long time now, Azerbaijan’s leadership has been playing the anti-Armenian card for their well-known motives. It is possible that we are dealing with an action of the Azerbaijani military-political leadership to push its domestic problems to the back burner by escalating tensions on the border.”
Pashinyan accused official Baku of having no regard for human life, including those of Azerbaijani soldiers. He cited Azerbaijan’s refusal to join the United Nations Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It turns out that the more the pandemic spreads in Azerbaijan, the more the socio-economic situation worsens, the more the anti-Armenian and military rhetoric of the Azerbaijani leadership intensifies. Instead of urging its own people to follow the health safety guidelines, the Azerbaijani leadership is making military threats and calling for war. It seems that “anti-Armenianism” is the best way to fight the coronavirus,” added Pashinyan.
The prime minister also took aim at Turkey, whose foreign ministry issued a statement decrying what it called“yet another manifestation of Armenia’s aggressive nationalism.”
“Turkey will continue, with all its capacity, to stand by Azerbaijan in its struggle to protect its territorial integrity,” said the Turkish foreign ministry statement.
“Turkey’s actions on provoking regional instability is also concerning,” said Pashinyan. “It is best reflected in the official statement of the Turkish foreign ministry where the latter is expressing unconditional support to Azerbaijan’s actions with an obvious and already traditional anti-Armenian logic.”
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said that Turkey was trying to “instigate instability in our region.”
“This provocative attitude by Turkey and its groundless accusations against Armenia attest to the fact that this country has been acting not as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group but as a party involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” read a ministry statement. “This fact makes it even more impossible for Turkey to play any role in issues related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within international and particularly the OSCE framework.”
“Azerbaijan’s attack-and-blame game is only possible because Aliyev’s been allowed to block the investigative mechanisms – gunfire locators and observers – that would hold it accountable for its cross-border aggression,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “If Baku wants the world to believe its anti-Armenian finger-pointing, it should be championing – not obstructing – the Royce-Engel peace proposal.”