Armenia said Tuesday that at least 49 of its soldiers have been killed in clashes along the border with Azerbaijan after a sharp escalation in fighting that prompted major powers to call for restraint.
Armenia stated that several cities near the border with Azerbaijan, including Jermuk, Goris and Kapan, came under artillery fire early Tuesday morning, and said he was responding to what he called a “large-scale provocation” by Azerbaijan. Baku stated that it was attacked by Armenia.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan attacks on Armenian cities because he did not want to negotiate the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave that is inside Azerbaijan but is mostly populated by ethnic Armenians.
“The intensity of hostilities has decreased, but attacks on one or two fronts from Azerbaijan continue,” Pashinyan said in his speech to parliament, according to Russian media.
The latest escalation of years of hostilities between the two South Caucasian countries has heightened fears that a second full-fledged war could break out in the post-Soviet world in addition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Azerbaijan, which has accused Armenia of carrying out intelligence activities along the border and moving weapons, said its military positions were attacked by Armenia. Azerbaijani media reported that the ceasefire agreement was violated almost immediately after it went into effect early Tuesday morning.
“As we have made clear long ago, there can be no military solution to the conflict,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement. “We call for an immediate cessation of all hostilities.” Russia, which has a military base in Armenia, is a key mediator in the region and an ally of Yerevan through the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, while Turkey backs Azerbaijan.
The Armenian and Russian defense ministers spoke Tuesday morning and agreed to take steps to stabilize the situation on the border, while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had a telephone conversation with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, and called on Armenia to “stop provocations.”
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, also urged Pashinyan to prevent further escalation. Russia sent thousands of peacekeepers to the region in 2020 as part of an agreement to end six weeks of hostilities between the parties, which saw Azerbaijan make significant territorial gains in and around the region. Nagorno-Karabakh.