According to the Kremlin, the presidents of the US, Russia and France have issued a joint statement condemning military violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. On Thursday, they called for an immediate halt to the fighting and a return to the ceasefire, as announced by the Moscow Kremlin.
The statement was signed by US President Donald Trump, France’s head of state Emmanuel Macron and Kremlin head Vladimir Putin. Russia, France and the US have led the so-called Minsk group of the Organization for Co-operation and Development in Europe (OSCE) since 1992.
Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Howhannissian said that about 350 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in the renewed fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, 15 armored vehicles and three helicopters from the other side were shot down, one of which has crashed in Iran.
The Ministry of Defense in Baku dismissed allegations that an Azerbaijani helicopter had been shot down over Iran as a “lie.” Regarding the fighting, it was said that “Armenian troops were the target of devastating artillery shots all night long.”
Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan under international law
The troops should have withdrawn from positions along the front line. The armed forces of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, for their part, assured that they had prevented Azerbaijan from reorganizing its forces.
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In Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, it was initially quiet on Thursday. However, a large number of police officers made the tense situation clear. During the night the city, darkened by the fighting, was shaken by two explosions. Apparently none of the conflicting parties achieved significant military success.
Nagorno-Karabakh is located in Azerbaijan, but is largely inhabited by Armenians, who also control the region. To this day, the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is not internationally recognized and is considered part of Azerbaijan under international law.
Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh flared up again on Sunday
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been going on for decades. However, the area has been relatively quiet in recent years until new fighting flared up on Sunday.
There is no complete information on the number of victims. On the Armenian side, 104 soldiers and eight civilians are said to have been killed since Sunday. Azerbaijan is silent about casualties in its army, speaking of only 16 civilians killed.
The struggle between Russia and Turkey for influence in the Caucasus also plays an important role in the conflict. Oil-rich Azerbaijan has upgraded its army in recent years and can count on the support of Turkey. Russia is historically considered the protective power of Armenia and has a military base there. At the same time, Moscow maintains good relations with Azerbaijan and supplies weapons.
Putin spoke to French President Macron about the conflict on Wednesday. According to the Kremlin, both agreed to intensify their diplomatic efforts within the Minsk group. They called on the parties to the conflict to “stop fighting completely and as soon as possible, to ease tensions and to exercise maximum restraint”.
However, there is currently nothing to indicate a de-escalation. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced on Wednesday that the fighting would not end until the Armenian rebels had withdrawn from the area. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan turned down an offer of mediation from Russia. (dpa, AFP)