Armenia reports ceasefire after new conflict with Azerbaijan

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  • Armenia says ceasefire in place, Azerbaijan silent
  • Deadliest violence since 2020
  • Armenia says 105 soldiers were killed in two days
  • Russia and America deployed diplomatic efforts

TBILISI, Sep 14 (Reuters) – A senior Armenian official said late Wednesday that a deal with Azerbaijan had been reached after two days of violence linked to a decades-old dispute between former Soviet states in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

There was no word from Azerbaijan on whether to stop the deadliest exchanges between the countries since 2020.

Russia is the major diplomatic force in the region and maintains 2,000 peacekeepers there. Moscow struck the deal that ended the 2020 fighting – dubbed the Second Karabakh War – in which hundreds of people died.

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

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

Both sides are blaming each other for the latest clash.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan previously told parliament that 105 Armenian soldiers had been killed since the violence began this week.

Azerbaijan reported 50 military deaths on the first day of fighting. Reuters was unable to verify the accounts of both parties.

Russian diplomatic efforts

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

Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin had spoken to Pashinyan, he said. After the violence erupted, Putin appealed for peace and other countries called on both sides to exercise restraint. read more

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

“If we say that Azerbaijan has launched an offensive 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 enclave that is recognized as part of Azerbaijan, while being home to a large Armenian population.

Fighting first began toward the end of Soviet rule, and Armenian forces took control of large areas in and around the region in the early 1990s. Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, largely took back those territories in six weeks in 2020.

Clashes have occurred from time to time, despite meetings between Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev aimed at a comprehensive peace deal.

Domestic unhappiness in Armenia about the 2020 defeat has prompted repeated protests against Pashinyan, who dismissed reports he had signed a deal with Baku.

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

A full-fledged conflict would risk dragging Russia and Turkey, and destabilize a vital corridor for oil and gas pipelines just as the war in Ukraine disrupts energy supplies. read more

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruir Hovhannisyan told Reuters the conflict could turn into a war – a second major armed conflict in the former Soviet Union while Russia’s military is focused on Ukraine. read more

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

Baku said Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Zehun Bayramov met with US State Department Caucasus adviser Philip Riker and said Armenia should withdraw from Azeri territory.

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

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

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Reporting by Nalia Bagirova in Baku, Gabriele Tetroult-Farber and Jake Cordell in Tbilisi, David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Eise Tokasabe and Ali Kukukgokmen in Ankara and Lydia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Kevin Liffy, William McLean, Jonathan Otis and Himani Sarkar

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principals.

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