Azerbaijan attacks Nagorno-Karabakh   


Antonio Guterres calls “for an immediate end to the fighting” after the EU, France and Germany condemned Azerbaijan’s military action…reports Asian Lite News

Azerbaijan said on Wednesday its military operation in Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh continued successfully after the US called on it to halt hostilities and Moscow urged both sides to stop the bloodshed in the disputed region.

After months of rising tensions in the Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan this week sent troops backed by artillery strikes into the region in an attempt to bring the breakaway region to heel.

The military measures “continue successfully,” with weaponry and military equipment destroyed, Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said in a statement on the Telegram messaging platform.

The mountainous Karabakh is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, but part of it is run by separatist Armenian authorities who say it is their ancestral homeland.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held calls with both Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, urging Azerbaijan to “immediately cease military actions” and de-escalate the situation.

In a readout of the call, the US Department of State said that Aliyev “expressed readiness” to stop hostilities and hold a meeting with representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh. Blinken told Pashinyan in their call that Armenia has Washington’s full support.

Russian news agencies cited Azeri’s presidential administration as saying Aliyev told Blinken that Azerbaijan will stop its operation only after Armenian fighters lay down their weapons and surrender.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, called “for an immediate end to the fighting” after the European Union, France and Germany condemned Azerbaijan’s military action.

Armenia took control of large swathes of territory in a war that unfolded as the Soviet Union collapsed. Azerbaijan took most of it back in a six-week conflict in 2020, ended by a Russian-brokered truce.

It was not clear whether Azerbaijan’s actions would trigger a full-scale conflict dragging in Armenia, but the fighting in Karabakh could alter the geopolitical balance in the South Caucasus.

Russia — distracted by its own war in Ukraine — is seeking to preserve its influence in the region, crisscrossed with oil and gas pipelines, in the face of greater activity from Turkiye, which backs Azerbaijan.

Karabakh separatist authorities said 27 people had been killed, including two civilians, and more than 200 injured due to the military action on Tuesday. Residents of some villages had been evacuated, they said.

Moscow called early on Wednesday on both sides to stop the bloodshed and hostilities and return to the implementation of the 2020 cease-fire agreement.

“We urge the conflicting parties to immediately stop the bloodshed, stop hostilities and eliminate civilian casualties,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its Telegram messaging platform.

Relations between Russia and Armenia — traditional allies — have frayed badly since President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and further deteriorated in recent months over what Armenia says is Moscow’s failure to fully uphold the 2020 cease-fire deal.

Armenia, which had been holding periodic peace talks with Azerbaijan, including questions about Karabakh’s future, condemned Baku’s “full-scale aggression” against the people of Karabakh and accused Azerbaijan of shelling towns and villages.

Azerbaijan said its intention was to “disarm and secure the withdrawal of formations of Armenia’s armed forces from our territories, (and) neutralize their military infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, Russia has called for an immediate halt to “bloodshed” in the ongoing conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and has urged Azerbaijan and Armenia to return to compliance with the trilateral agreement with Moscow, TASS News Agency reported.

Moscow has further urged the sides to stop armed hostilities and do everything possible to protect the population

“The most important thing now is to immediately return to compliance with the trilateral agreements signed at the top level in 2020-2022, which lay out all measures for a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It also urged “to stop armed hostilities and to do everything possible in order to protect the population of Nagorno-Karabakh and defend its interests,” TASS reported.

It further demanded the sides to stop the ‘bloodshed’, adding that the Russian peacekeeping force is assisting the civilian population in the conflicted region.

“Due to a rapid escalation of armed hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, we strongly call upon the conflicting sides to immediately stop bloodshed, cease hostilities and prevent casualties among the civilian population,” TASS quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry.

It added, “Currently, the Russian peacekeeping force is assisting the civilian population [of Nagorno-Karabakh], including providing medical aid to them, and is dealing with matters of evacuation”.

Meanwhile, at least 27 people have been killed and 200 wounded in a military operation by Azerbaijan in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, CNN reported citing an official in Armenian-controlled territory there.

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