Armenian-Azerbaijani border clashes: latest information and comments
On January 11, as a result of another military clash on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, three Armenians and one Azerbaijani serviceman were killed, several were wounded.
This military clash coincided with the anniversary of the trilateral meeting of the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow on January 11, 2021. This was the first meeting after the end of the second Karabakh war. The statement adopted at the end of the meeting concerned the decision to open transport communications in the region. The first meeting of the special representatives of Armenia and Turkey as part of the process of normalization of relations between the two countries is scheduled for January 14, 2022. There is an opinion that the tension may be connected with the upcoming negotiations.
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Reports from Yerevan
Three Armenian servicemen were killed as a result of shelling by the Azerbaijani armed forces of positions in the eastern direction of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Two are injured, but their condition is assessed as stable.
Alarming messages from the eastern border began to arrive in the afternoon of 11 January. At first, the Armenian Defense Ministry reported on the shelling of Armenian positions near the village of Verin Shorzha in Gegharkunik region by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, starting at 15:15. It was said that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces fired from positions that, since May 2021, have been located on the sovereign territory of Armenia.
The statement only mentioned one wounded. Then, after 17.30, the press service of the Ministry of Defense has already announced the continuation of the shelling with the use of artillery and drones. A little later, information appeared about two dead Armenian servicemen, as well as two wounded.
The situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border stabilized by 21:00. However, in the morning, the Ministry of Defense reported that the body of another victim had been found after midnight.
The Investigative Committee of Armenia launched a criminal case on the death of three servicemen of the Armenian army. A preliminary investigation has begun.
MFA: “The encroachment on the territorial integrity of Armenia continues”
Condemning the gross violation of the ceasefire by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, the Armenian Foreign Ministry stressed:
“The provocation of the units of the Azerbaijani armed forces is another manifestation of the ongoing encroachments of Azerbaijan against the territorial integrity of Armenia, which began on May 12, 2021 with the penetration of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia and continued with regular armed attacks.
The Republic of Armenia draws the attention of the international community to the fact that Baku, continuing its encroachments against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia, violates the fundamental principles of international law, including the UN Charter, and undermines regional security”.
The Foreign Ministry reiterated the proposals of the Armenian authorities in order to avoid further aggravation:
- parallel withdrawal of troops from the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,
- launching of an international monitoring mechanism along the border.
The statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry ends with an appeal to the Azerbaijani authorities “to refrain from provocative actions and fulfil the obligations to establish stability in the region, assumed by the trilateral statement in Sochi and following the meeting in Brussels”.
Ombudsman: “Azerbaijan is responsible for the crimes committed”
The Ombudsman of Armenia believes that “the Azerbaijani authorities are acting in clear violation of international rules: they are responsible for the crimes committed”. This is how Arman Tatoyan assessed the shelling of the Armenian military positions by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on January 11.
“Today’s murder of Armenian servicemen in Gegharkunik, violation of their right to life, harm to the health of wounded servicemen, as well as violation of the security of the civilian population is an act of aggression against people”.
Tatoyan stressed that the Azerbaijani side fired at positions in the immediate vicinity of the villages, using artillery and drones “in a way that endangered life, security and other vital rights of the civilian population”.
On January 12, Arman Tatoyan stated that after these events he will prepare an extraordinary report on the policy of Armenophobia and xenophobia pursued by Azerbaijan, as well as crimes against Armenian military and civilians.
Social media reaction
Armenian users of social media are actively discussing the recent escalation and reaction of the Armenian authorities. Here are some of the typical comments:
“It should be noted that no one discredits the CSTO as professionally as Azerbaijan does from time to time. This time, if Russia ignores the aggravation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, Moscow will nullify all the propaganda points gained by its activities in Kazakhstan”.
“The Foreign Ministry demands a mirror withdrawal of troops from the border. I don’t know whose “brilliant” idea this is, and what brought it about, but what do they mean – withdraw the Armenian army from the Armenian border? On the contrary, the military presence should be increased and strengthened along the border in order to push back the enemy and stifle all his attempts in the cradle, so that he would not even dare to think about approaching our positions. Who is developing this policy? Where did they study?”
“The aggression of Azerbaijan towards Armenia and the Armenians is an war crime. These young people should not have been killed for the sake of the ego of despot Aliyev”.
“Everyone seems to understand that the Turkic world does not want to put up with its humiliation in Kazakhstan. Erdogan and Aliyev are simply crying from the blow to their pride: Armenia is the CSTO chairman country, which has sent troops into Kazakhstan. After all, they have already defeated us, they have already forced Pashinyan to betray his country and people and sign a shameful statement of surrender.
Is it not clear that they will do everything to show Armenia ‘ its place’? This is a pattern. And this will continue as long as Nikol Pashinyan is Prime Minister”.
Reports from Baku
MFA: “Armenia bears responsibility”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan has issued a statement in connection with the events on the border with Armenia on January 11.
“We strongly condemn the continuation of military provocations by Armenia.
Having committed another bloody provocation on the state border, instead of taking steps to normalize relations between the two countries, the military-political leadership of Armenia is directly responsible for the escalation of the situation in the region”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov informed the US Assistant Secretary of State about what happened at the state border.
“On January 11, a telephone conversation took place between Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried.
Bayramov spoke about the latest situation in the region, including the steps taken by Azerbaijan to implement the trilateral statements on Karabakh.
The Minister informed the US Assistant Secretary of State about the provocation committed by Armenia in the direction of the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan, as a result of which an Azerbaijani soldier was killed. Bayramov stressed that the responsibility for this provocation lies directly with the military-political leadership of Armenia”, the Foreign Ministry noted.
Ombudsman’s appeal to international organizations
The Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of Azerbaijan, Sabina Aliyeva, appealed to international organizations:
“We regret to inform you that at noon on January 11, the armed forces of Armenia made another provocation on the Kalbajar section of the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border. Serviceman of the Azerbaijani army Nazarov Ayaz Azer oglu died as a result of a shot from a sniper weapon.
We strongly condemn the commission of such provocative actions, contrary to the provisions of the trilateral statements of November 10, 2020 and November 26, 2021 on a complete ceasefire and all hostilities between the parties aimed at violating fundamental human rights, we demand that Armenia respect the internationally recognized territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
I call on international and regional organizations, ombudsmen and national human rights institutions of foreign countries to respond to the human rights violations committed by Armenia in the region and to take decisive measures in accordance with the norms and principles of international law aimed at preventing such actions that threaten the provision of sustainable peace and development”.
Ministry of Defense: “The border is being strengthened”
“Armenia’s escalation of the situation along the border of the two states in violation of its obligations without special grounds and with appropriate trilateral statements is a deliberate military provocation.
In all cases, an adequate and proportionate response was given by the units of the Azerbaijani army from the opposite side.
Currently, it is relatively calm in these directions.
The operational environment is under the control of our units.
Not excluding the possibility of Armenia repeating deliberate attempts to aggravate the situation along the state border of the two countries, the Azerbaijani army units guard the sovereign territories and the security of our country’s borders in an enhanced regime”, the press service of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on January 12.
Prosecutor’s Office launches a criminal case
As noted in the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan, in connection with “a provocation committed on Tuesday, January 11, by the Armenian armed forces on the section of the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border in the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan, as a result of which an Azerbaijani soldier was killed, a criminal case was initiated”.
“On the fact of the death of a serviceman of the N-th military unit of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ayaz Nazarov (born in 1998), who died as a result of the shelling by the enemy of the territory of the Kalbajar region, the district prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case under article 120.2.12 (“ Premeditated murder committed under reasons of national, racial, religious hatred or enmity “) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan, an investigation is underway”, the department added.
“The Armenian army has committed a provocation. Our serviceman was killed in the direction of Kelbajar. Two posts of the Armenian army were destroyed by return fire, and the opposing side suffered losses. In order not to frighten the society, the Armenian leadership announces losses with interruptions.
A similar incident took place in early November last year, when both sides suffered casualties. Then the situation temporarily stabilized after telephone conversations between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Baku and Yerevan. On November 26, a trilateral meeting of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia took place in Sochi.
The statement following that meeting spoke about the opening of communications and the importance of defining the border. It was also announced the creation of another trilateral commission on the determination of the border”, political scientist, head of the Atlas analytical center Elkhan Shahinoglu comments on the incident.
“Despite this, there is no news yet about the opening of communications, or about the creation of this trilateral commission. Two weeks after the Sochi meeting, the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia met again, this time in Brussels. The meeting was mediated by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
But yesterday’s incident at the border showed that the agreements reached in Sochi and Brussels are not being implemented. And until the parties have signed a peace treaty, until the borders have been defined and while communications remain closed contrary to the agreements, the tension on the border will not decrease.
With provocations on the border, the Armenian leadership is pursuing a different goal. Inspired by the events in Kazakhstan, they decided to involve the CSTO in the game. With these provocations, Armenia is testing the pulse of the organization, and it is possible that soon there will be an appeal to the CSTO for help. But such a ‘pulse check’ can be costly for Nikol Pashinyan.
The Azerbaijani army, in response to the provocation, destroyed two of Armenia’s posts and showed that regardless of who is Armenia’s friend, it will always provide a significant response. But if Russia and the CSTO do not respond to Yerevan’s appeals, the Armenian society and the opposition will ask Pashinyan: “Why don’t Russia and the CSTO support us?”, Shahinoglu summed up.