Azerbaijani forces have entered the Sev Lidj (Black Lake) region of SyunikAs the standoff in Syunik continued after Azerbaijani forces breached Armenia’s border and advanced into its sovereign territory, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Friday officially asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for assistance.
Pashinyan, speaking at an emergency session of parliament, said he invoked the 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance. A similar appeal by Pashinyan to Putin during last fall’s Artsakh War did not yield the anticipated assistance and instead resulted in the signing of the November 9 agreement, which halted military actions in Karabakh, but forced the surrender of territories in Artsakh and Armenia to Azerbaijan.
On Wednesday, Azerbaijani troops breached Armenia’s border and advance 3.5 kilometers into the Sev Lidj (Black Lake) region of Syunik. The lake, which is a manmade reservoir, is main water supply for the residents of the region. On Thursday, as the standoff intensified, Azerbaijani forces continued their advance in other directions in Syunik, as well as near the city of Vardenis in the Gegharkunik Province.
While there have been no shots fired, the situation has escalated an already tense situation on the Armenian border.
“I have appealed to President Putin for assistance to Armenia including military, after Azerbaijan failed to withdraw an estimated 250 troops from the southern Armenian province of Syunik,” Pashinyan told lawmakers on Friday, adding the representatives of the Russian military base in Gyumri were also involved in ongoing negotiations, which are expected to resume on Saturday.
“Representatives of the 102nd Russian base joined the negotiations with the Azerbaijani side and presented working maps. According to these documents, the territory invaded by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces is in the CSTO zone,” Pashinyan said, referring to the Russia-led security pact, of which Armenia is a member.
Meanwhile Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was in Baku on Tuesday, one day before the Azerbaijani incursion into Armenia spoke to his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhum Bayramov on Thursday.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the two leaders discussed the “escalation of the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” with Lavrov stressing the need for both sides to comply with the provisions of the November 9 agreement.
Lavrov reportedly called for “resolving all such incidents solely through political and diplomatic means,” the Russian foreign ministry statement said.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry on Friday confirmed that further talks for a “peaceful” resolution of the border situation were scheduled for Saturday, adding that the Azerbaijani forces still remain on Armenia’s territory.
“The Armenian side has presented its clear demand to the Azerbaijani military to return to the positions without any preconditions,” the Defense Ministry said in its statement.