YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Military authorities in Yerevan denied on Tuesday that Baku has taken control of more sovereign Armenian territory in the southeast of the country despite reports by locals about advancements of the Azerbaijani army in recent days.
Khachatur Baghdasaryan, mayor of the village of Nerkin Hand in Armenia’s Syunik province, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service today that Azerbaijani servicemen set up five tents within the administrative territory of the community more than a week ago.
“They moved some 800-900 meters down into our administrative territory. They set up five tents and are now digging trenches,” the local leader said.
Baghdasaryan said that Russian servicemen deployed in the area had been informed about the movement of the Azerbaijani military, but no reaction from them has followed yet.
Deputy Defense Minister Arman Sargsyan said today that Azerbaijani servicemen did not enter Armenia’s sovereign territory. “They didn’t enter our sovereign territory. The situation now is stable, but still we can’t say that there is no problem,” he said.
The press service of the Defense Ministry also dismissed allegations about the advancement of the Azerbaijani military. In particular, it said that Azerbaijani servicemen had simply returned to positions that they previously controlled, but recently had to leave temporarily due to winter conditions.
“There can be no question of any [Azeri] advancement. In this and all other sections of the border the Armenian Armed Forces are fully fulfilling their tasks, including monitoring any movement of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces and keeping the situation under control,” the Defense Ministry said.
Residents of Nerkin Hand, however, rejected that version of events. They told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that Azerbaijan never controlled those positions before.
The situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border escalated after the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh in which Azerbaijan defeated the region’s ethnic Armenian forces and regained control of territories adjacent to the Soviet-era Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
Last May, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of moving its troops across the border and taking control of more than 40 square kilometers of its sovereign territory in the Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces.
Baku denied any violation of the border with Armenia, maintaining that its troops had been stationed within the Soviet-era borders of Azerbaijan.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan acknowledge the need for conducting the delimitation and demarcation of their border, but Yerevan insists that before that a “mirrored withdrawal” of both Armenian and Azerbaijani troops should take place and an international monitoring mechanism should be introduced.