- Azerbaijan’s Continuation of Military Operations in Nagorno-Karabakh
- Ethnic Armenians’ Call for a Ceasefire and Azerbaijan’s Ultimatum
- International Responses and Escalating Tensions in the Region
Azerbaijan has declared that its military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh, which it terms “anti-terror” operations, will continue for a second day.
It states that it will not cease until the ethnic Armenians of Karabakh surrender.
Internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, the South Caucasus separatist territory has caused months of turmoil.
The last conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia occurred three years ago.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, Azerbaijan’s defense ministry stated that military vehicles, ordnance, and anti-aircraft missile installations belonging to the Armenian military had been “neutralized.”
Since the attack began, Nagorno-Karabakh authorities have reported 27 deaths, including two civilians, and many injuries.
Baku has stated that it is willing to engage in negotiations, but insists that “illegal Armenian military formations must raise the white flag” and dismantle their “illegal regime.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Azerbaijan and Armenia fought for the first time. Then, in 2020, Azerbaijan recaptured areas in and around Nagorno-Karabakh before a ceasefire was negotiated and Russian peacekeepers monitored it.
Tuesday, ethnic Armenians in Karabakh called for a ceasefire and the commencement of negotiations. The Azerbaijani ultimatum, however, made it plain that Baku’s objective was to complete its conquest of the mountainous enclave.
Nikol Pashinyan, the prime minister of Armenia, has accused Azerbaijan of launching a ground operation intended for “ethnic cleansing.”
Hundreds of Armenian protesters clashed police outside parliament in Yerevan, calling their leader a traitor and demanding his resignation.
Both the Russian foreign ministry and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded that Ilham Aliyev immediately cease military action.
Ethnic Armenians refer to Khankendi, the regional capital of Karabakh, as Stepanakert. According to Azerbaijan, negotiations could begin in the town of Yevlakh, located roughly 60 kilometers (100 kilometers) north of Khankendi, also known as Stepanakert.
Moscow has been distracted by its enormous invasion of Ukraine while 2,000 Russians have monitored the weak ceasefire since 2020.
The mountainous enclave is inhabited by an estimated 120,000 Armenians. According to the Azerbaijani authorities, two landmine blasts killed six people, including four police officers, Tuesday morning.
For the past nine months, Azerbaijan has effectively blocked the Lachin Corridor, the only route into the enclave from Armenia.
According to the Azerbaijani authorities, two landmine blasts killed six people, including four police officers, Tuesday morning.
In the capital city of Karabakh, air raid sirens and the sounds of artillery and gunfire could be heard. The journalist Siranush Sargsyan witnessed a residential building next door being struck and devastated.
According to defense officials in the breakaway region, the Azerbaijani military “violated the ceasefire along the entire contact line with missile and artillery fire”. Others in Karabakh called it a “massive military offensive,” even though the fire had subsided.
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence insisted that it was not targeting civilians or civilian structures and that “only legitimate military targets are being incapacitated with high-precision weapons.”
It accused Armenian forces of “systematic shelling” of its army positions and said it had responded with “local anti-terrorist activities… to disarm and secure the withdrawal of Armenia’s armed formations from our territories.”
In a brief televised address, the prime minister of Armenia denied military involvement.
Russia’s foreign ministry stated that it was only given minutes’ notice of the Azerbaijani offensive and urged both parties to honor a ceasefire agreement signed after the conflict in 2020. Toivo Klaar, the EU’s regional special representative, stated that an emergency ceasefire was required.
On Wednesday morning, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded an urgent cessation of hostilities and “stricter observance of the 2020 ceasefire and principles of international humanitarian law.”
Tuesday, South Caucasus commentator Laurence Broers stated that the blockade had debilitated the Armenian population in Karabakh and that the Azerbaijan operation had been launched “apparently to retake Armenian-populated Karabakh in its entirety.”
Armenia is a member of the military alliance CSTO, which is headed by Russia, but relations with Moscow have deteriorated.
Recently, Nikol Pashinyan stated that Russia was “spontaneously leaving the region.” And this week 175 Armenian personnel participated in military exercises with US forces. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan enjoys robust support from its ally Turkey.
Hikmet Hajiyev, special adviser to the president of Azerbaijan, also urged the ethnic-Armenian separatist administration to “dissolve itself.”
“Azerbaijan has always stated that it is willing to guarantee the rights and safety of Karabakh Armenians by the constitution,” he said.
Despite Azerbaijan’s denial of increasing troop numbers in the region, there was optimism that tensions would subside.
It let ICRC aid into Karabakh via the Lachin Corridor from Armenia and the Aghdam route from Azerbaijan on Monday.