Armenia reports ceasefire after new border clashes with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh

There has been no talk of a ceasefire by Azerbaijan to stop the deadliest exchanges between the countries since 2020.

Russia is the most prominent diplomatic force in the region and deploys 2,000 peacekeepers there. Moscow brokered the deal that ended the 2020 conflict — dubbed the Second Karabakh War — that left hundreds dead.

Russian news agencies quoted Armenian Security Council Secretary Armin Grigoryan as telling Armenian television: “Thanks to the involvement of the international community, an agreement on a ceasefire has been reached.”

The announcement said that the ceasefire had been in effect for several hours. Armenia’s Defense Ministry said earlier that firing in the border areas had stopped.

Each side is blaming the other for the fresh clashes.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan earlier told parliament that 105 Armenian soldiers have been killed since violence began this week.

Azerbaijan reported 50 soldiers killed in the first day of fighting. Reuters was unable to verify either side’s accounts.

Grigory Karasin, a senior member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, told the RIA news agency that the ceasefire was largely brokered by Russian diplomatic efforts.

He said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had spoken to Pashinyan. Putin appealed for calm after the violence erupted, and other countries showed restraint on both sides.

In his address to parliament, Pashinyan said his country had appealed to the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization for help in restoring its territorial integrity.

“If we say that Azerbaijan has committed aggression against Armenia, it means that they have managed to establish control over some areas,” Russia’s Tass agency quoted him as saying.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting for decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region that is recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has a large Armenian population.

Fighting first began toward the end of Soviet rule, and Armenian forces captured large swathes of territory in and around it in the early 1990s. Turkey-backed Azerbaijan largely recaptured these areas over six weeks in 2020.

Since then, there have been periodic clashes between Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, despite meetings aimed at a comprehensive peace settlement.

Domestic unhappiness over Armenia’s 2020 defeat has fueled repeated protests against Pashinyan, who has denied reports that he had struck a deal with Baku.

In a Facebook post, he blamed the reports on “information sabotage directed by unfriendly forces”.

A full-blown conflict would risk a drag on Russia and Turkey, and destabilize a key corridor for oil and gas pipelines, just as the war in Ukraine disrupts energy supplies.

Armenia’s deputy foreign minister Pervir Hohannisen said the clashes could turn into war — the second major armed conflict in the former Soviet Union as Russia’s military focuses on Ukraine.

Azerbaijan has accused Armenia, which is in a military alliance with Moscow and home to a Russian military base, of shelling its military units.

Baku said that Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jehon Biramov met with Philip Ricker, the US State Department’s adviser on the Caucasus, and told him that Armenia should withdraw from Azeri territory.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blanken said on Tuesday that Russia could either “stir the pot” or use its influence to help “calm the waters”.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna also called for “an end to attacks against Armenian territory” in a call with her counterparts from the two countries.

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