Armenia claims Azerbaijani forces captured strategic point in Karabakh
Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
The Armenian Foreign Ministry reports that the “Azerbaijani invasion, which began on March 24 in the zone of responsibility of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation, near the village of Parukh, Askeran region [according to the administrative division of Azerbaijan – the village of Farukh, Khojaly region — JAMnews] continues”. The statement says that units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were firing at Armenian positions at night. It is reported the unrecognized NKR reports that five servicemen were wounded as a result of the shelling.
Azerbaijan refutes the reports of the Armenian side about military clashes in the zone of deployment of peacekeepers, calling them “provocative”.
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Reports from Yerevan
By the time the article was published, NK reported that the units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces “continue gross violations of the ceasefire, in addition to firearms, they also use attack drones, including the Bayraktar TB-2 type”. As a result, two Armenian servicemen were killed.
“As of 14:00, the operational-tactical situation on the eastern border of Artsakh continues to be extremely tense”, Nagorno-Karabakh reports.
Chronology of events
On March 24, a message was received from the Information Headquarters of Nagorno-Karabakh that “at 16:00, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces violated the line of contact in the direction of the village of Parukh, Askeran region”.
It was reported that, with the mediation of the Russian peacekeeping forces, negotiations are underway “in order to stop the further advance of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces and their return to their original positions”. For security reasons, women and children were evacuated from the village of Khramort (in Azerbaijan, this village is called Pirlyar).
Then the same Information Headquarters transmitted:
“The situation in the direction of the settlements of Parukh-Khramort of the Askeran region is under the control of the Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in the Republic of Artsakh. As a result of negotiations and additional security measures, the movement of the Azerbaijani armed forces across our territory has now been suspended, but the enemy has not yet returned to their original positions”.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement in connection with the aggravation of the situation in NK:
“The aggressive actions of Azerbaijan once again prove that official Baku continues to flagrantly violate the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, as a result of which hostilities were ceased, the parties stopped at their positions and peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation were deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh – along the line of contact.
These actions were preceded by the complete blocking of the operation of the only gas pipeline supplying Artsakh by Azerbaijan, the shelling of civilian infrastructure with large-caliber weapons, threats to the Armenians of Artsakh and other steps aimed at ethnic cleansing. Moreover, along with a sharp aggravation of the security situation in Europe, such actions by Baku seriously threaten regional stability and peace”.
Both March 24 and 25 messages of the Armenian Foreign Ministry contain an appeal to the Russian side, which is carrying out a peacekeeping mission in this zone:
“We expect the Russian peacekeeping forces to take measures to ensure the immediate withdrawal of the Azerbaijani armed forces from the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, which will mean the return of the Azerbaijani troops to their original positions as of March 23”.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry also appeals to the international community to “give a clear assessment of Azerbaijan’s provocative actions aimed at disrupting the peace process, support efforts to establish peace in the South Caucasus and achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”.
On March 24, the Armenian Foreign Minister held telephone conversation with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried. Ararat Mirzoyan presented the situation. He stated that Azerbaijan grossly violates the obligations enshrined in the tripartite statements on the cessation of hostilities and endangers regional stability and peace.
He assessed Azerbaijan’s actions as deliberate pressure on the civilian population. In particular, they talked about the fact that Azerbaijan, among other things, stopped the transfer of gas from Armenia to NK, thus creating a humanitarian crisis. According to the minister, Azerbaijan’s actions “are a clear manifestation of the policy of ethnic cleansing and the anti-Armenian policy of Azerbaijan”. Ararat Mirzoyan stressed that he expects a targeted and clear response on these issues from the international community, including the United States.
Statements of the Ombudsmen of Armenia and NK
Armenian Human Rights Defender Kristine Grigoryan described Azerbaijan’s actions as “violating all universally recognized norms of international law.” She recalled the “pressure, intimidation of the population of Artsakh, the creation of unbearable conditions for a normal life” that has been going on for months.
“This invasion is another proof that the shelling of the civilian population of Khramort and other villages for several weeks did not give the desired result, people did not leave their homeland, so Azerbaijan applied its usual line of behavior and resorted to another provocation.”
The Ombudsman considers Azerbaijan’s actions as a “policy of ethnic cleansing.” And Kristine Grigoryan referred to the position of the international community as “an awkward silence”, which is not accompanied by any actions. While “people in Artsakh have the same rights as in other parts of the world.”
NK Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan also expressed his surprise at the lack of reposes from the international community in his statement. At the same time, he stated that “Azerbaijan is teaching the world a public “master class” on the destruction, deportation and deprivation of the motherland of a specific ethnic group”:
“Dear representatives of the international community, there are more than enough facts and evidence to apply the norms of “protection and responsibility” to prevent and stop genocide, crimes against humanity, mass crimes, recognize the Republic of Artsakh and save the Armenians of Artsakh from ethnic cleansing and genocide. There is simply no other option. It is finally time to understand that a criminal should be punished, not negotiated with.
Commentary from Yerevan
Political scientist Tigran Grigoryan believes that Azerbaijan is pursuing both tactical and strategic goals, trying to use the “convenient situation” to achieve these goals:
“Obviously, Azerbaijan is trying to establish control over at least the villages of Khramort and Parukh, as well as over the strategically important hill of Karaglukh. The longer-term strategic goal is the complete expulsion of Armenians from Artsakh”.
For this, according to the political scientist, people are intimidated, artificial inconvenience is created so that the Armenian population voluntarily leaves their homes.
Tigran Grigoryan also speaks about the inefficiency of the activities of Russian peacekeepers, and he regards this as a serious problem:
“If Russian peacekeepers take on the responsibility of securing a certain area, as a result of which it comes under the control of Azerbaijan, this is simply unacceptable”.
Reports from Baku
“The provocative statements spread by the Armenian side about alleged clashes with the use of UAVs in the territory of Azerbaijan, where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily stationed, and the deaths of our military personnel are false”, the press service of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said.
“We declare that the units of the Azerbaijani army continue the process of clarifying the locations of positions and deployment points without the use of force. Our units are in full control of the operational situation”, the Defense Ministry said.
Foreign Ministry statement
In connection with the situation in the part of Karabakh where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed, and commenting on the statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan issued a statement.
“The statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry on March 24, which contains accusations against Azerbaijan in connection with the alleged escalation of the situation in the region, is another attempt to mislead the international community”, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, the positions and locations in the region are being clarified, there is no reason for any hysteria. The Armenian side is engaged in disinformation by artificially exaggerating the issue.
As for the technical problems in the gas pipelines in the region due to severe weather conditions for several days, Armenia intends to use the situation as a tool for political manipulation.
We would like to remind you that Armenia, which for many years kept the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with a population of more than 400,000 people in a gas blockade, carried out water terror using the Sarsang reservoir for about 30 years, denied the existence of landmine maps that put an end to the life and health of hundreds of people for a long time, concealed information about the fate of about 4,000 Azerbaijanis who went missing in the early 1990s, and now makes baseless accusations against Azerbaijan – this is nothing but the political hypocrisy of this country.
At present, the only way to ensure peace and stability in the region is the full implementation of the provisions of the joint statements, including the complete withdrawal of the remnants of Armenian illegal formations from the region and the normalization of relations on the basis of the principles of international law.
Now is the time to do real work, not political manipulation”, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Commentary from Baku
Azerbaijani military observer Adalat Verdiyev commented on what is happening in Karabakh.
“The Armenian side, demanding the status, gas and electricity in Karabakh in its additions to the 5-point proposals of Azerbaijan, received a response in the village of Farrukh and nearby heights. The village is under the control of the Azerbaijani army. From the height of Dashbashi (Karaglukh) a panorama of Khanabad, Askeran and Khojaly opens. There is no news on the Lachin corridor,” he wrote about the latest developments in this region.
Verdiev also commented on the reaction of some international organizations to the communal problems of the residents of the part of Karabakh, where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily stationed.
“Along with Armenia, reproaches against Azerbaijan are heard from some international organizations. The main idea of these reproaches is that the Armenians in Karabakh are freezing, the weather is bad there, Baku should restore the gas supply.
I have a few questions for the authors of these accusations:
- Where were you when for many years 1 million Azerbaijani refugees were freezing in bad weather in railway cars and tents?
- Where were you when Armenia was building this illegal pipe through the territories of the Lachin region and the city of Shusha occupied by it?
- Where were you when Armenia cut off the water from the Sarsang reservoir built by Azerbaijan every summer and opened it every winter, leaving the houses of local residents under water?
- Where were you when for 30 years Armenia did not allow Azerbaijan to supply gas to Nakhichevan?
- Why were you silent when Armenia has been refusing to fulfill its obligations as the losing side for 16 months?
- Where were you during the period from the Khojaly genocide to the Ganja genocide?
- Where were you when Armenia did not want to return the whole of Karabakh and several regions around it, occupied by it, one village of Nakhichevan, 7 villages of the Gazakh region?
The list can go on, but I think these questions will suffice. If someone does not see all the consequences of separatism for the world and is hypocritical about everything that happened in Zangezur, Karabakh and Ukraine, then they have nothing human in them”, the military observer noted.