International efforts at getting Armenia and Azerbaijan to establish a ceasefire were short-lived as border clashes have continued Wednesay, after the worst violence between the rival countries since 2020 broke out shortly after midnight Tuesday, leaving over 100 Armenian soldiers killed, according to new statements by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Azerbaijan had on the same day said that 50 of its troops were killed in fighting, with both sides blaming the other for aggression and provocations. Pashinyan has accused Azerbaijan forces of breaching and occupying 10 square kilometers of sovereign Armenian territory following clashes which began anew this week, for which it’s seeking Russian military help.
Russia said it brokered a ceasefire Tuesday, but it quickly fell apart as cross-border shelling has continued. “If we say that Azerbaijan has carried out aggression against Armenia, it means that they have managed to establish control over some territories,” Pashinyan told his parliament, according to TASS.
“Pashinyan said 105 Armenian service personnel had been killed since the attacks began, and that the spa town of Jermuk, known across the former Soviet Union for its hot springs, had been shelled,” according to Reuters. Moscow is meanwhile urging that both warring sides hold to agreed-upon terms for ceasefire:
“We expect that an agreement reached as a result of Russian mediation on a ceasefire from 9:00 a.m. Moscow time (06:00 GMT) on Sept. 13 this year will be carried out in full,” the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement, adding that it was “extremely concerned” by the uptick in fighting.
But there’s as yet little or no evidence that the ceasefire ever got of the ground or held at all. “It is difficult to overestimate the role of the Russian Federation and [President Vladimir] Putin personally. Obviously, the president is making every effort to help de-escalate tensions on the border,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed of Russian mediation efforts during a Tuesday briefing.
There are reports the several hundred Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh are in the line of fire…
— Aldin 🇧🇦 (@tinso_ww) September 14, 2022
Now with at least 105 Armenian troops killed and more injured, and as Azerbaijan continues to vow “necessary response measures” by military units stationed at the border, fears are growing of a full-blown war:
“Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan told Reuters the clashes could escalate into a war – a second major armed conflict in the former Soviet Union while Russia’s military is focused on the invasion of Ukraine.
As we detailed earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sided fully with Azerbaijan, as has been the clear pattern in the recent past. During the last border conflict, Erdogan was reported to have greenlighted Turkish-backed Syrian Islamist mercenaries being sent to the conflict to fight Armenians.
I spoke with @KTLA today about how US military assistance to Azerbaijan has enabled its aggression against Artsakh & Armenia — and why @POTUS must uphold his campaign pledge to cease military aid to Azerbaijan’s corrupt regime amidst its unprovoked assault on Armenian civilians. pic.twitter.com/Z1iFaPmtBY
— Alex Galitsky (@algalitsky) September 14, 2022
With Yerevan urging greater Russian intervention on its side, and Baku’s close relationship to Turkey and Erdogan, it’s a recipe for potential broader conflagration.
As Reuters underscores, “A full-fledged conflict would risk dragging in Russia and Turkey, and destabilize an important corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas just as war in Ukraine disrupts energy supplies.” Iran has also warned against “border changes” in this latest flare-up of fighting.